Florida Public Utilities Proposed Rate Increase

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Residents who get their power from Florida Public Utilities had a chance to speak out on Wednesday about a proposed rate increase.

Just how much of an increase is still undecided.

They were few but mighty. Five people stepped forward to express their concerns over a proposed rate increase by Florida Public Utilities for electric service.

Rex Torbett, with Jackson Hospital said, “It could impact us drastically; is an increase going to cause us to close our doors? No, but somewhere it has to stop.”

FPU says their costs are rising. Costs for fuel alone have increased 30 to 35 percent in addition to other rising costs. So, they must pass that expense onto the customer.

The actual increase consumers will see depends on how much the Public Service Commission decides is appropriate and fair. Customers could potentially see a rate increase of 40 percent on their electric bills.

Members of the Public Service Commission say they will take the concerns of the public into consideration as they decide how much the increase should be.

Todd Brown, with the Public Services Commission said, “The public is welcome to come at any point of the process, whether it is at a hearing or fax or written notice.”

FPU says the amount of increase will directly affect their ability to increase reliability during natural disasters, trim trees and replace infrastructure.

Don Meyers, with Florida Public Utilities said, “The cost of electricity is rising. We don't make our own electricity, so we must pass the costs onto the customer.”

More hearings are planned by the commission in the Northeast Territory and Tallahassee.

The commission is expected to make a decision by April 2008.

The last FPU electric rate increase was in 2004.

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