FL Activists Protest TECO Rate Hikes; Call for County Action

Reliance on costly fossil fuels and unchecked utility rate increases are driving increasingly unaffordable energy bills

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Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Tampa, FL — On Wednesday morning, USF students and climate activists protested the latest round of TECO rate hikes at a USF event with TECO People’s Gas President Helen Wesley in downtown Tampa. The silent protest comes as TECO ratepayers saw an 11% rate increase on energy bills this month. Additional increases are expected. On Monday, TECO filed adjustments for storm recovery and mid-course fuel cost adjustments, asking the state Public Service Commission to approve an additional $15 in surcharges per month on the average ratepayer’s bill, starting in April of this year. At a press conference outside the event, speakers asserted that an ongoing reliance on costly fossil fuels and unchecked utility rate increases are driving increasingly unaffordable energy bills, meriting involvement from the Hillsborough County Commission.

Despite legislation in Tampa to move off fossil fuels, TECO continues to expand fossil fuel infrastructure, at great cost to ratepayers. Just last week, Food & Water Watch and nearly 100 local residents, filed comments with the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee in opposition to a proposed 1.26 mile pipeline expansion project to double the flow of fracked gas into Hillsborough County. 

Brooke Ward, Senior Florida Organizer for Food & Water Watch said:

“Our reliance on fossil fuels is costing us dearly — worsening the climate crisis, harming our health and, increasingly, hitting us in the pocketbook. The Florida Public Service Commission has become a rubber stamp for TECO’s utility rate hikes. It’s time our increasingly unaffordable energy bills got deeper scrutiny for their cost and climate impact. We need the Hillsborough County Commission to stand up to our local utilities and address the root cause of these rate hikes: fossil fuels. We call on the Hillsborough County Commission to intervene in these rate hikes and protect ratepayers from dirty fossil fuels and corporate greed by transitioning off of fracked gas. As long as TECO runs on fossil fuels like fracked gas, our rates will continue to rise — along with the sea level.”

“No more pipelines!” said Bethzaida Olivera, Climate and Clean Energy Policy Advocate for Florida Conservation Voters. “We need to move away from fossil fuels. The cost of the fuel and the cost of these infrastructure prices is driving up rates. The system — how it is now — is not fair and equitable. Our most vulnerable residents are footing the bill.” 

As TECO expands their climate-warming fossil fuel infrastructure, the utility is relocating its headquarters to Midtown Tampa in response to rising seas and resiliency risks

“TECO is moving their office to higher ground because of their current flooding vulnerability. They are aware of the problem that fossil fuels are causing and can purchase a multi-million dollar building to avoid the risks. Meanwhile they are doubling down on climate-changing fuels that continue to put the rest of us — who can’t afford to move — at risk. The saddest part is that they are making our most vulnerable residents foot the bill,” said Peyton Hoey, GenCLEO Regional Organizing Manager.

A recording of the press conference is available here; photos are available here.

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]