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What's up at Duke Energy? Looks like its 2017 electricity rates, soaring above its peers

In the wizarding world of electric monopolies, arcane ingredients are mixed to conjure up their prices for electricity.

I prefer to keep things as simple as possible.

First, are their proposed rates going up (bad for customers) or down (good)? Second, are their rates higher, lower or at least reasonably competitive with some of their major utility peers that serve Central Florida?

Duke Energy Florida, Tampa Electric and Florida Power & Light this week all filed new rate requests, based on their expected costs of fuels used to run their power plants. Once approved by the Florida Public Service Commission (and that's likely), the new rates would go into effect in early 2017.

The price for a residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity, an amount used by a modest household in Florida in about a month's time, always varies among the three utilities. But this time, the rate hike sought by Duke, a notoriously high-priced provider of electricity among this state's big utilities, is set to soar the most, topping $116. Included in the increase are those covering the costs of decommissioning the now-closed Crystal River nuclear plant.

In sharp contrast, Tampa Electric's rates will drop, making them $11.47 cheaper than Duke's. And FPL's rate is slated to rise significantly. But its price is so low to start that even after the rate hike, what FPL charges would remain slightly cheaper than Tampa Electric. And when compared with Duke's requested rate, FPL would still charge $13.87 less.

That's a jolting difference in price for the exact same product.

Contact Robert Trigaux at rtrigaux@tampabay.com. Follow @venturetampabay.

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