Duke Energy, TECO ask to raise rates

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Duke Energy customers in Tampa Bay could see a significant increase in their power bills next year if a rate hike request is approved by state regulators.

The company filed a request with the Florida Public Service Commission to raise rates 8.5 percent in 2018. The increase would push the average power bill to a little more than $128 per 1,000 kilowatts, which is what an average household uses.

"Safe, reliable, clean energy is important to all our customers. It's important to us," Duke Energy Florida President Harry Sideris said in a statement. "Through cost management and careful planning, Duke Energy Florida has made thoughtful investments to significantly enhance service reliability and reduce emissions for our customers. We work hard to provide the best possible value for our customers."

Duke blamed the potential rate change mainly on rising fuel costs.

Some customers aren't thrilled to about possibly having to pay more.

"Every dollar counts for us that's on disability and that will be a big impact on three-quarters of this trailer park," said Dave Hickenbottom, who lives in the Gateway Mobile Home Park in St. Petersburg. "It's pretty frustrating, but what can we do about it? There ain't a whole lot we can do about it. If they say they're going to raise the rates, we got to pay or we're going to get shut off."

Tampa Electric also filed a request with FPSC to for a 1 percent increase, which would see the average power bill rise to $106. The average power bill for Florida residents in June was $117.

"Tampa Electric continues to have some of the lowest rates in Florida," boasted Gordon Gillette, TECO's president and CEO, in a statement. "We are proud to provide outstanding value to our customers every day."

If approved, Duke's increase would go into effect in January. It's unclear when TECO's would take effect.