Florida power companies ask for increase on electric bills

Florida power companies have asked the state's Public Service Commission (PSC) to approve double-digit percent increases for their customers in 2023.

TECO has asked for an increase of between 8% and 12% for businesses, and 11% for households.

"We will get through this year okay. What worries me is our ability to invest in the business going forward," said Clark Craig, the owner of FastSigns on Kennedy Boulevard in Tampa.

Their $1,600 a month power bill could go up between $128 and $192. Even after increasing their own prices, they're behind profit projections.

"An increase will be significant," Craig said. "We have already had to raise prices 10%."

In a petition filed Sept. 2, TECO explained to the PSC that while it charges 4.1 cents per kilowatt-hour for fuel this year, it expects to charge 4.8 cents next year.

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They testified that "production growth of natural gas has been very slow as producers exercise capital discipline despite rising gas prices. In addition, the Ukraine invasion continues to impact the energy markets."

For households, TECO asked for an 11% increase while Duke is asking for 15%.

The increases come months after the state approved previous rate hikes, approving proposals by TECO, Duke Energy Florida, and Florida Power & Light to collect additional money from customers to cover higher-than-expected costs of fuel.

"The United States is connected to the world oil and natural gas markets," said Andrew Lipow of Lipow Oil Associates. "There is very little we can do other than increase supply, and that's one of the biggest issues facing the world."

The world is a big place when your power bill is at stake, especially for Stephanie Stockert, one of 19 employees at FastSigns. Homeowners could see an increase from $133 a month to $147. Stockert has taken on odd jobs to get through.

"We are all working hard trying to get through with our bills and everything," she said. "To have an unexpected surge in our electricity doesn't help with budgeting, and it makes things a lot harder."

In a statement, TECO said their "focus on creating value is unwavering, and that they recognize and acknowledge the unique economic challenges our customers are facing."