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Progress Rate Case Begins

September 21st, 2009 by Mike Vasilinda

Its round two for utility regulators in Tallahassee. Progress Energy, the states second largest utility is asking for an increase of more than 13 dollars a month for the average customer, but as Mike Vasilinda tells us, many think the hike is too much at the wrong time.

Before a small hike in July, the average Progress Energy customer was paying $122.43 a month. If the company gets everything it wants, the bill would jump to $135.69 in January. The company says it needs the money to make sure the lights come on when you flip the switch.

Theyve only gone up one percent in over 25 years,” Suzanne Grant, Progress Energy spokesperson said. “Weve been maintaining costs for as long as we could. Weve done all we can to maintain our system and keep the rates low.

The rate hike faces opposition from the governor, but hes only got a bully pulpit, not a vote.

The state lawyer who looks out for consumers is also saying no.

We think that that is the wrong thing to do today,” Public Counsel J.R. Kelley said. “Again, because of the severe economic conditions that rate payers are experiencing.

More than 1300 progress customers have already written the PSC to say they cant afford a rate hike. And hundreds, if not thousands more, said the same thing at public hearings.

The Florida Retail Federation told the commission most of its shoppers cant afford a rate hike.

Progresss proposed rate hike is a weeks worth of breakfasts or lunches for their families,” Florida Retail Federation attorney Schef Wright said. “Or a tank of gasoline, or medicine, or food, or doing without.

Progress is asking for the right to make a 12.54 percent return on its investment. No other utility in the country has asked for that much this year.

A decision on the rate hike is expected November 19th. If any part of it is approved, higher rates will show up on your January bill.

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