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Bigger Power Seeks Boost

August 26th, 2009 by Mike Vasilinda

Six and a half million electric customers across Florida could be paying substantially higher rates if the states two biggest power companies get their way. Florida Power and Light and Progress Energy are both asking for rates hikes in the 30% range. As Mike Vasilinda tells us, they have also picked up a powerful enemy.

The Public Service Commission will decide the fate of the rate hikes sometime in November, and if a hike is approved in either case, it would begin showing up on your January bill.

These boxes with thousands of pages are what Florida Power and Light is using to justify a request for a 30 percent rate hike.

FP&Ls hearing started Monday. Progress Energys hearing, which is asking for a similar hike, begins next month.

The states consumer lawyer is fighting back.

Progress Energy is asking for 12.54 percent return on equity which is just a tad higher than Florida Power and Light. Either way you shake it, its just excessive and unreasonable,” public counsel JR Kelly said.

Listen to FP&Ls pitch:

Prices are going down next year,” FP&L spokesman Mayco Villafana said.

What the companies are really saying is that were going to take less of your money because our fuel costs have gone down, and then you wont notice when we raise your rates.

Heres why: FP&L customers should see a 17 drop in fuel charges next year, while theyre asking for an 11-dollar hike in their base rates.

Governor Charlie Crist says both rate hikes are bad.

People are hurting and I understand that and I dont think its a great time to be raising their utility rates,” Crist said.

But at the PSC, FP&Ls President isnt backing down.

Im not sure that there will ever be a time where anybody will say great, increase our rates,” FP&L president Armando Olivera said.

Whatever happens in the FP&L case is likely to be a window into what will happen with Progress Energys request as well.

The Public Service Commission will decide the fate of the rate hikes sometime in November, and if a hike is approved in either case, it would begin showing up on your January bill.

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