Today, 24 groups sent a letter organized by Food & Water Watch to Hillsborough County Commission Chair Ken Hagan, requesting he seize on an opportunity to help Hillsborough County families lower their electricity bills by delivering $831,960 of federal energy efficiency funding to local residents. Groups plan to bring this demand to the Hillsborough County Commission meeting on Wednesday, September 20.
Hillsborough County is eligible for funds through the federal Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant. Earlier this summer, Governor DeSantis rejected an additional $346 million in statewide energy efficiency funds; the Florida Congressional Delegation has requested to bypass the state and grant local access to these additional federal funds. Groups urged Commissioner Hagan to ensure the funding through the Department of Energy helps Hillsborough ratepayers.
“Our Governor’s unwillingness to confront the climate crisis is driving Floridians’ energy rates through the roof. While our continued reliance on fossil fuels sends our bills skyrocketing, Governor DeSantis is denying access to federal funding that could lower those bills right now. Commissioner Hagan must not make the same mistake,” said Food & Water Watch Senior Florida Organizer Brooke Ward. “Chair Hagan must act now to bring hundreds of thousands of federal dollars into Hillsborough County and launch a comprehensive plan to lower our energy demand and our bills while we transition off dirty fossil fuels.”
Since January 2019, the average Tampa Electric bill has increased 62%. Moving off fossil fuels and increasing energy efficiency are key to reducing energy costs.
“Tampa Electric has made risky investments in fossil fuel infrastructure that they continue to double down on, and are facing higher expenses as a result. The people of Hillsborough County shouldn’t have to pay more of their hard-earned wages to protect the profit margins of this company. Our fundamental need to have electricity shouldn’t be a bargaining chip to gamble with,” said Sam Delgado, Programs Manager, Central Florida Jobs with Justice.
“We were gravely disappointed to watch Governor DeSantis reject $346 million in federal funds that could have gone to help Florida families and small businesses in reducing their energy costs,” said Yoca Arditi-Rocha, Executive Director, CLEO Institute. “The county must step where state leadership has failed us! Floridians are on the frontlines of the climate crisis and this is one needed step for our people’s resiliency!”