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House Bill Proposes Utility Rate Increase to Pay for Renewables

April 27th, 2010 by Mike Vasilinda

Under legislation considered by the House today in Tallahassee, the state’s four investor owned utilities ( FP&L, Progress Energy, TECO, and Gulf Power) would be allowed to raise rates four dollars a month next year to build solar or biomass plants. But as Mike Vasilinda tells us, the legislation does nothing to help eight thousand Floridians who have already installed solar and are waiting for a promised rebate.

The state’s big power companies are already collecting money every month from utility customers to build new nuclear plants. Now, the Florida House wants to also let them collect four dollars a month beginning next year and as much as ten dollars a month in 2013 to fund construction of solar plants.

“So, I think the bill does a lot to create jobs in our state and encourage jobs in our state,” Rep. Seth McKeel (R-Lakeland) said.

The measure has the backing of some Democrats.

“If you don’t make investments in the future, you have no future,” Rep. Joe Gibboms (D-Miami) said.

But it also has opponents on both sides of the isle.

“We’re going to raise rates for people in our districts, and we’re going to give it to industries,” Rep. Dave Murzin (R-Pensacola) said.

“Is now the time to pass a potential $376 million dollar rate increase onto consumers?” Rep. Scott Randolph (D-Orlando) said.

In a voice vote, the House said no to 8,000 people in Florida who have already installed solar and are expecting a rebate. They won’t get it because the money has run out.

Florida ran out of money for solar rebates in June of last year, but didn’t bother to tell anyone until November, racking up a 25 million-dollar promise that won’t be fulfilled… all while utilities could collect more than a billion dollars for solar.

The Senate is sending signals that it will not take the house plan.

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