By Matt Wiley
New Tampa residents should start taking steps now to conserve more power, if they want to be prepared for the rate hike that TECO (the Tampa Electric Company) is planning to propose. In a press release dated February 4, TECO announced to the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) that it plans to request a rate hike of about 10 percent, which would add around $11 per month to the average residential power bill beginning as early as January 2014, if the hike is approved.
TECO officials say they will submit the proposal to PSC in April, after which PSC hearings and a vote will be conducted before the end of the year.
The reason for the rate hike? The TECO release says that due to increased costs and sluggish growth, the company is seeking to raise more than $135 million, which would add about 35 cents per day to the service cost of the average customer who uses 1,000-kilowatt hours per month. TECO serves more than 675,000 customers in west-central Florida.
“There is never a good time to raise rates, and we empathize with our customers who are also feeling the effects of a difficult economy,” TECO president Gordon Gillette said in the release. “We have worked diligently to keep costs low, but (our) costs continue to outpace growth.”
Gordon noted that the relative price of electricity has gone down in recent years, when compared with the rising cost of other household commodities. The release states that TECO customers’ bills have dropped more than $12 per month in the past four years and that the utility company has not requested a rate hike since 2008.
“We are proud to offer our customers a great value — and rates that will remain among the lowest of Florida’s utilities,” Gillette said.
The TECO announcement comes just weeks after Pebble Creek’s private water provider, Pluris, announced a proposed steep rate hike for the New Tampa community, which will face a hearing before the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners for approval.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, some common ways to conserve energy include unplugging appliances that are not being used, especially cell phone chargers, making sure ceiling fans are turned off when no one is in the room and investing in energy-efficient light bulbs, particularly bulbs that are “Energy Star”-qualified.
These bulbs meet energy-efficiency standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, specifically compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs). The Department of Energy website also says that old incandescent light bulbs waste more than 90 percent of their energy in heat alone because they are based on old technology.
For more information about how to better conserve power, please visit Energy.gov.