Rate hike coming for TECO, FP&L utility customers

Customers of both TECO and Florida Power & Light will soon be paying more for electricity.

The state’s Public Service Commission unanimously approved the new multi-year rate plans, as both utility companies shift towards solar power.

"The fact that it establishes for us a predictability of the rates going forward for the next five years is certainly a plus," said Gary Clark, Public Service Commission chairman.

FP&L’s rate plan spans the next four years and supports long-term investments in infrastructure, clean energy and technology. This includes about 16-million new solar panels across more than 50 new sites, enough to power roughly 1 million homes.

TECO customers will pay more over the next three years.  Its rate plan will help boost solar energy and continue moving away from using coal to fuel power plants. Including adding solar facilities that will generate 600 megawatts of electricity, and upgrading the Big Bend Power Station in Hillsborough County.

"I think all utilities are looking at it very seriously. And many utilities are actually doing it," said Dr. Yogi Goswami, director of the USF Clean Energy Research Center.

Goswami says there is a move in the utility industry overall toward the use of solar power and other renewable energy, so a higher monthly bill isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

"It's in all of our interests that we do everything we can to reduce the adverse climate effect," Goswami said.

Extreme climate events and sea level rise are likely in Florida’s future, and reducing our carbon footprint now will help slow that climate change. 

Goswami says solar power is a great direction for TECO and FP&L, and there are things you can do at home to help as well.

"I think as citizens, we have some responsibilities also, and that is to become more energy efficient," said Goswami.

The new rates go into effect starting in January.