People fed up with sky-high power bills

August 25, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured, Local News

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VERO BEACH, FL – Kevin Beverly turned on his lights because he knew we were coming.

He sits in the dark most of the time.

Beverly keeps the air conditioner set at 78 or higher, even though his daughters need to stay cool.  The two girls suffer from epilepsy and heat increases the likelihood of a seizure.

Still, the electricity bill often tops $400, $500, even $600.

Beverly lives in unincorporated Indian River County but gets his power from the city of Vero Beach.

Vero Beach gets electricity from Florida Municipal Power Agency, which recently raised its rates to offset projected fuel costs.

“The FMPA literally almost doubled their costs to us,” says Vero Beach Customer Service Manager John Lee.

“We got a bill from them last month for $6.2 million.  By contract, we are obligated to get that from our customers.  We don’t tax it, we don’t take any profit, we send it right back to them.”

Lee says customers will soon get a break.

The contract with FPMA ends in January and Vero Beach will start getting its power from the Orlando Utilities Commission.

Lee says though the base rate for power will increase, the average homeowner’s bill should drop about 20%.

Any savings on the electricity bill will not kick in until January and Vero Beach customers will still pay more than customers of Florida Power and Light.

Beverly says he’s not sure how he’ll even make it to the first of the year.

He’s asked the city repeatedly for help.

“Oh our hands are tied, that’s the answer we would get,” Beverly says.  “Or it’s going to get worse before it gets better.  And who knows if better’s coming January 1st.”

Water and sewer rates will also increase, costing the average homeowner $11 more per month next year.

The Vero Beach City Commission will discuss the proposed hikes September 1st and vote on them September 15th.