Advocates Call on Hillsborough County To Intervene In TECO Rate Hikes

Hillsborough County approves controversial carbon capture pilot program

Published Apr 17, 2024


Climate and Energy

Hillsborough County approves controversial carbon capture pilot program

Hillsborough County approves controversial carbon capture pilot program

Today, advocates with the Hillsborough Affordable Energy Coalition requested that the Hillsborough County Commission intervene on behalf of their constituents against a recently filed TECO rate hike that, if approved, would raise the average bill to $160.93 a month in January 2025, an increase of 62% since January 2019 — well over twice the rate of inflation over that period.

At today’s meeting, the Hillsborough County Commission also voted 5-2 (Commissioners Cohen and Kemp dissenting) to approve a controversial 60-day carbon capture pilot program contract with LowCarbon at the County’s Covanta trash incinerator. 

Food & Water Watch Southern Region Director Jorge Aguilar said:

“Instead of entertaining a shady carbon capture sideshow, the Hillsborough County Commission should be focusing on protecting the County families from astronomical electricity bills. We call on the Hillsborough County Commission to intervene in TECO’s rate hike requests and pass a comprehensive affordable energy and climate plan now.”

Advocates called on the Hillsborough County Commission to intervene in state proceedings regarding TECO’s requested rate changes, and they decried the decision to approve LowCarbon’s carbon capture pilot, which at best would only capture 1/600 of the Covanta trash incinerator’s daily carbon dioxide emissions. A scaled up facility would aim to capture less than 7 percent of the facility’s emissions, and would carry a price tag of nearly $25 million.

Advocates have been calling for County action to deliver clean, affordable energy for more than a year. Energy generation is Tampa Bay’s largest greenhouse gas contributor, and TECO’s continued reliance on fossil fuels for energy generation is resulting in significant consumer rate hikes.

Brittany Panton, Central Florida Jobs with Justice, Tampa Organizer said: “The people in the community have been crying for help from TECO bills. Raising our rates will cause more damage in our low income communities and communities of color. We have been begging the Hillsborough County Commissioners for support on affordable energy; fighting TECO rate hikes is a critical step forward in doing that.”

Isabella Saldariagga, genCLEO Organizer said: “Rate hikes are devastating the economic stability of college students, with students either growing increasingly worried or lost in the unknown of what their electricity bills will look like.”

Walter Smith, Sierra Club, Lead Organizing Representative for the Beyond Coal Campaign said: “The people have come out time and time again to tell this County Commission about the impacts of high energy bills from TECO. Their voices are dismissed. I’ve witnessed people inform a commissioner of their energy burdens caused by TECO’s questionable billing practices and they were, again, dismissed. The tone deafness of this Commission is astounding. This issue of a rate increase is an art of a crisis, no doubt about it. If the Commission does not listen and act now, something worse is coming that they will not be able to ignore.”

David Sinclair, LULAC Council #7529, President said: “When the going gets tough for our electric residential customer class in Hillsborough County, should we not turn to our elected county officials to intervene on our behalf before the Florida Public Service Commission? After all, who else will fight for us when we are soon, again, to be crushed by newly proposed TECO base rate hikes?”

Press Contact: Phoebe Galt [email protected]