Activists use web to oppose Progress Energy rate hikes listen09/05/08 SeÃ¡n Kinane
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Last Friday, Progress Energy submitted a request to Floridaâ€™s energy regulators to increase customersâ€™ bills by 31 percent. But activists who oppose the rate hike are using the web to organize.
Among the reasons Progress Energy gives for the increase are increased costs of fuel and two proposed nuclear reactors in Levy County.
The nuclear plants were approved by Floridaâ€™s Public Service Commission (PSC) in July. The construction costs of the nuclear power plants are expected to be seventeen billion dollars, according to C J Drake, a spokesperson for Progress Energy.
Many customers are upset that a private company with a monopoly on services is charging them for the costs of capital projects in the future.
Aubrey Perry is the president and co-founder of floodthelines.com along with his wife, Deb. He says the website â€œallows everyday people to create their own advocacy campaigns and get others involved in causes.â€ One of those campaigns is â€œSay No to Progress Energy's Rate Hike Request,â€ Perry said.
The campaign on the website calls Progress Energyâ€™s request for a rate hike â€œexcessive and unreasonable.â€ Perry said that people who signed up are asked to call the PSC and then fill out a survey to see if they got through.
â€œOnce people make their phone call, it will automatically send them a survey and ask them if they got through, if they left a voice mail message or anything like that.â€
A household currently paying $110 a month for 1,000 kilowatt hours of energy would pay nearly $145 in January, if the PSC approves Progress Energyâ€™s request when they meet during the first week of November.
Perry said his own energy bills are much higher. â€œRight now weâ€™re paying about $400 a month. Our home is about 3,000 square feet. And the rates have gone up drastically and we even have the load balancing. We know itâ€™s affecting us and itâ€™s got to be affecting others in the same way. With the prices of everything going up, anywhere we can try to keep the costs down will help everyone.â€
Another website critical of Progress Energyâ€™s request for a rate hike is fireprogressenergy.com .
Drake said itâ€™s inevitable, people donâ€™t want their rates increased; but he doesnâ€™t begrudge people who are using the internet to protest the proposed rate hike.
Drake said Progress Energy offers free home energy checks and other ways for customers to reduce their electric bills by increasing efficiency.
Photo by SeÃ¡n Kinane/WMNF (May 2008)