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Rate hikes approved for Tampa Electric, Duke Energy Florida, and Florida Power and Light

TECO-owned power plant in Apollo Beach, FL
Art via Flickr Creative Commons
TECO-owned power plant in Apollo Beach, FL

The Florida Public Service Commission, which regulates private utilities, approved rate increases for three electric companies that serve the state during its Tuesday meeting.

Two new rate hikes for Tampa Electric, or TECO, were permitted: one is due to the volatile cost of the fossil fuels it uses to generate electricity, and the other is to recoup nearly $131 million of storm expenses from seven weather events in 2022. Although, clean energy activists point out that only two severe weather events impacted the utility's service area.

Tampa Electric customers can expect their energy bills to increase by 9.8% starting in April. By then, the average customer's bill will have risen 62% from 2019 - from $99.53 to $161.13.

In April, the Tampa utility will submit their 10-year plan, which advocates consider a key opportunity to see what other fossil fuel projects and rate hikes they have in store.

The commission also approved an increase of 15.1% spread over 21 months for Duke Energy Florida. Due to that longer time frame, the actual monthly increase visible on energy bills will be 3.8%.

In addition, Florida Power and Light will increase rates in their northwest territories by 8.3%, and in the peninsula by 10.3%.

“Florida’s stubborn reliance on fossil fuels is gouging residents and businesses, as Floridians pay through the nose to keep our corporate utilities profitable at any cost," Brooke Ward, senior Florida organizer for Food & Water Watch, said in a press release. "As our energy bills rise, so too does the sea level and our climate emissions. We need less fracked gas not more — Floridians can’t keep footing the bill for more costly fossil fuel infrastructure.

“Rising rates are only the latest symptom of our fossil fuel-dominated system that privileges corporations over communities and climate. In Tampa Bay, our local governments have passed bold resolutions to keep fossil fuels out of our communities and push back against TECO’s profiteering — it’s time for the Hillsborough County Commission to follow suit.”

Food and Water Watch launched a campaign last month to mobilize the Hillsborough County Commission to push back against “the fossil fuel and corporate greed driven rate hikes that have been lashing not only Tampa Bay residents, but Floridians statewide.”

The national nonprofit is partnering with Tampa Ecosocialists, Florida Rising, Florida Student Power Network, Central Florida Jobs With Justice, the CLEO Institute, Florida Conservation Voters, Tampa Bay Disaster Resiliency Initiative, Sierra Club, and Tampa Bay Climate Alliance-- itself a consortium of 35 local groups.
Copyright 2023 WUSF 89.7.

Jessica Meszaros is a reporter and host of Morning Edition at WUSF Public Media, and former reporter and host of All Things Considered for WGCU News.