McCollum urging public to participate in rate hike hearings

Ashley Stinnett Jul. 7, 2009, 12:15am

Bill McCollum (R)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Legal Newsline)- Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, along with the state's Public Counsel J.R Kelly, is urging consumers to participate in an upcoming hearing which will determine if utility costs will go up.

A total of nine hearings, held by Florida's Public Service Commission, will focus on a proposed $500 million annual rate increase by Progress Energy of Florida.

"This proposed rate increase is concerning and will be difficult for utilities customers to bear," McCollum said. "Given the tough economic climate for power companies, these requests must be carefully weighed considering the costs for consumers."

Aside from the attorney general's office, the Florida Retail Federation, Florida Industrial Power Users Group and AARP will also be represented at the hearings.

In March, Progress Energy filed a regulatory request for a 31.5 percent rate increase that would result in an average increase of $13.83 per month for residential ratepayers, McCollum said.

The energy company has also proposed an increase on its profit from an already existing 9.16 percent return investment to 12.54 percent.

"Progress Energy wants a 12.54 percent profit, at a time when the economy is suffering, unemployment is high and most folks are just trying to keep their head above water," Kelly said. "We do not believe an increase of $500 million is warranted."

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