Activists use web to oppose Progress Energy rate hikes

09/05/08 Seán Kinane
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Last Friday, Progress Energy submitted a request to Florida’s energy regulators to increase customers’ 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 Florida’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 along with his wife, Deb. He says the website “allows everyday people to create their own advocacy campaigns and get others involved in causes.” One of those campaigns is “Say No to Progress Energy's Rate Hike Request,” Perry said.

The campaign on the website calls Progress Energy’s request for a rate hike “excessive and unreasonable.” 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.

“Once 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.”

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 Energy’s request when they meet during the first week of November.

Perry said his own energy bills are much higher. “Right now we’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 it’s affecting us and it’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.”

Another website critical of Progress Energy’s request for a rate hike is .

Drake said it’s inevitable, people don’t want their rates increased; but he doesn’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 Seán Kinane/WMNF (May 2008)

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How many billion $$ ?

The latest guesstimates on the cost of the Regress Energy new nukes in Levy County are now at $21 Billion with the real possibility that they may cost $24 Billion, or more. Those are dollars coming out of your pocket. Banks refuse to finance nukes, due to the overwhelming risks. So the federal government (with your money) finances nukes, whether you agree or not. How many solar water heaters and solar photovoltaic units in Floridians' yards would $21 Billion provide? There wouldn't be a need for any new nukes if those dollars were spent more wisely. Florida utility companies should be required by the PSC to provide solar for their customers before allowing the utilities to charge customers for the costs of new nukes.