Higher electric bills are coming for SWFL residents

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LEE COUNTY, Fla. — In Southwest Florida, just under a third of the population is seeing electric bill prices soar while the rest are wondering what is going on. 

This summer, Lee County Electric Cooperative started raising rates people were paying because of rapidly rising fuel costs. Thus, some residents saw their bills double, paying around $400 in some instances. 

LCEC gets its power from Florida Power and Light, who produces the energy primarily from natural gas. Then the power company passes the cost directly onto the customer. 

Denise Vidal, CEO of LCEC, met with Cape Coral’s city council on Wednesday to explain how much longer LCEC’s roughly 289 thousand customers could see such high power costs. 

“I know we have about a little over 70 million that we have to recover. That’s probably going to take about 8 months, maybe a little less,” said Vidal.  

That possible 8 month window is how long the company expects it will take to catch up to its comfortable levels that it owes on the power that you, the resident, have already used. 

It’s how the system is set up. Many LCEC customers are paying their August usage bills now that we are in September. LCEC will then pay what it owes to Florida Power and Light next month.  

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This is also after years of LCEC not raising rates for its customers. 

“We would like to bring rates down even more than the customers would like to see them brought down,” said Vidal.  

However, on the other side, more than 650 thousand Southwest Florida residents have Florida Power and Light as their provider. While their bills appear lesser in the present – officials said a rate hike could be in the future. 

Until FPL can make enough improvements to solar or green energies, it’s also relying on high priced natural gas to power homes.  But the energy producer can only really increase rates once a year, unlike LCEC’s board driven rates which can change rates as needed. 

An FPL representative told NBC2 that officials are working on a new rate for its customers and hope to present what bills in 2023 will look like in the coming weeks. 

Tags: electric billLee County ElectricrisingSWFL

 

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