The Tampa Electric Company is attempting to raise rates on customers by a full 19%, one of the biggest rate increases in Florida history. The company is attempting to raise rates in order to fund a new natural gas unit at the Big Bend powerplant, new transmission infrastructure, efforts to harden the grid, additional solar, as well as to accommodate inflation and maintain a 10.75% return on equity (a relatively high rate for the industry).
Floridians are not ready for these unprecedented bill increases
Now is not the time for a rate increase. If anyone should know how badly Floridians are suffering right now, it’s the major utility companies, who have collectively disconnected over 600,000 people from their power over the course of the pandemic. TECO was among the first of the major utilities to resume disconnections during the height of the pandemic, and has disconnected over 35,000 customers since resuming disconnection. COVID cases are rising once again, and Floridians are still struggling to get back on their feet. Any major increase in power bills right now could be devastating for many families.
What’s worse, TECO has no plans to help customers accommodate this increase in bills. The company, like all Florida utilities, already underspends on energy efficiency. The company’s plan doesn’t include any new increases in efficiency, meaning that working and lower income families will continue to pay more money for less energy.
Many of the expenses TECO is attempting to recover could be covered by the company itself and not its ratepayers.
These bill increases would help pay to lock in natural gas dependency
Tampa Electric is pitching the conversion of their coal burning unit in the Big Bend powerplant to natural gas as a major victory for the environment. But in reality, they are simply switching from one unsustainable fossil fuel to another. Environmentalists across the Tampa bay region have risen up against that conversion, recognizing that it would lock in decades of natural gas dependency. TECO is already 85% reliant on natural gas as a fuel source, one of the highest rates of dependency in the state. The company could have made major investments in energy efficiency or additional investments in renewable energy instead. TECO could have retired the units and found the excess power through efficiency improvements or additional solar, but chose a shortsighted stopgap instead. We do not need any new natural gas improvements on the grid.
Now is your chance to speak up against TECO rate increases. Can’t afford higher bills? Don’t want your hard-earned money to go towards dirty natural gas? Speak up! Right now, you can register to speak at TECO’s Aug 9 and 10 Public Service Commission Hearings. The PSC wants to hear from you – why do you stand against proposed rate increases?
The registration window for the TECO rate increase virtual public meetings are open. As we’ve seen in similar hearings, the limited seats for these virtual meetings fill up fast. Don’t waste another moment or another dollar: sign up to speak up today!