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Electricity Costs Customers More in Florida

Cutomers of Progress Energy Florida pay more than the customers of its new parent company, North Carolina-based Duke Energy -- and the diference is sizable.

According to a story in the St. Petersburg Times, "Puzzled by the Price of Power?" -- Progress Energy Florida customers pay $119.34 per 1,000 kilowatt hours of power, Progress Energy North Carolina customers pay $102.19 and Duke Energy North Carolina customers pay and $92.99.

Why are Floridians so cursed? Because they live in Florida, apparently. The fact that Duke and Progress Energy are merging doesn't mean Progress Energy Florida customers will see their bills go down.

The Times story points out that utility rates are calculated based on all kinds of variables, from fuel costs and regulatory fees to energy efficiency programs and "a healthy dose of politics."

The main reason customers won't see a decrease in their bills after the merger of Duke and Progress is because the utility plans to apply for higher fees that would go into effect Jan. 1, 2013.

Times reporter Ivan Penn points out that in most states, North Carolina included, utilities can't make customers pay preconstruction costs for proposed nuclear plants. In Florida, they can.

"Progress Energy Florida customers pay $5.53 per 1,000 kilowatt hours for nuclear cost recovery," Penn says. "In other words, they pay in advance for a nuclear plant Progress wants to build in Levy County. ...

"Bottom line, at least for now: For Progress Energy Florida customers to benefit from the reduced cost of nuclear fuel, they will have to pay for nuclear plants in advance."

The nuclear fee isn't the only thing. State regulations also require a higher fee than North Carolina for energy conservation programs -- we call it an energy efficiency rider. Floridians pay $2.99 per 1,000 kilowatt hours, North Carolinians $1.91.

"And," says the story, "state taxes in Florida are more than $2 higher than North Carolina."

Bill Newton, executive director of the Florida Consumer Action Network is quoted as saying, "Our state tends to make up the difference for not having a state income tax."

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