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TECO, Duke ask for higher electric rates to adjust for fuel costs

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Published:   |   Updated: September 2, 2013 at 09:21 AM

Both Tampa Electric Co. and Duke Energy are requesting higher electricity rates for customers, as the two major power companies make adjustments for the cost of fuels like coal and natural gas.

Tampa Electric officials are asking for adjustments that would add $1.27 per month toward the $103.85 bill for the average household that uses 1,000 kilowatt-hours, about a 1.2 percent rise from the current $102.58 a month. Commercial and industrial customers would see bills rise by 1.4 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively.

That’s in addition to an earlier Tampa Electric request for an increase of another $10.41 a month – or 35 cents a day – for the average residential customer due to what the company calls “rising costs and sluggish growth.”

Duke Energy is asking for another $8.24 per month (a 7 percent hike) for the average monthly bill, which would go from $116.06 to $124.30.

If approved, the new prices would go into effect with the first billing cycle for January 2014.

Power companies divide their bills between “fuel costs” that are passed directly on to customers and “base rates” that cover the corporate operations of things such as power plants, transmission lines, personnel, investor dividends and maintenance.

The fuel cost changes come both as the raw cost of coal and natural gas move in the markets, but also as companies make predictions for where they think costs will go. Ultimately, they ask state regulators for adjustments, partly based on how close they came in their predictions.

TECO serves about 1 million customers, about 685,000 residential users across the Tampa region, and is already looking to raise rates on customers by about 10 percent to pay for what the company says are necessary upgrades — an increase worth about $135 million per year. That request presently is before state regulators who may make a decision by the end of the year.

Duke serves about 1.7 million customers in 33 Florida counties, including about 755,000 in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando and Polk. Last year, Duke filed requests to lower electricity rates by about 6 percent, from $123.19 to about $115.75, though Duke’s rate picture is somewhat obscured by the wider issue that the company plans to retain millions of dollars in fees collected for a nuclear power plant that the company ultimately decided against building.

The Florida Public Service Commission will hear the fuel-related requests on November 4.

rmullins@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7919 Twitter: @DailyDeadline

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