Dozens of FL Advocates Rally Against TECO Rate Hikes, Outside Public Hearing

Groups call on the Hillsborough County Commission to oppose the requested rate hike, under which the average customer would pay over $200 more a year starting in January

Published Jun 13, 2024

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Climate and Energy

Groups call on the Hillsborough County Commission to oppose the requested rate hike, under which the average customer would pay over $200 more a year starting in January

Groups call on the Hillsborough County Commission to oppose the requested rate hike, under which the average customer would pay over $200 more a year starting in January

Tampa, FL — Several dozen advocates rallied this morning outside a Public Service Commission hearing on TECO’s latest proposed electricity rate increase. If approved, the average residential customer would pay over $200 more a year, starting in January — an increase that amounts to 62 percent ($61/month) more than six years ago.

Carrying signs and leading chants, advocates with the Hillsborough Affordable Energy Coalition demanded, “NO MORE RATE HIKES!” and called on Chair Ken Hagan’s Hillsborough County Commission to object to TECO’s rate hikes, and pass an affordable energy and climate plan to insulate energy burdened residents from volatile, costly fossil fuels and profit-driven rate hikes. Following the rally, advocates plan to testify at the hearing against TECO’s proposed rate hikes.

Food & Water Watch Senior Florida Organizer Brooke Ward said:

“TECO’s greedy rate hike request would come at the direct expense of Floridians and our climate. Continued investments in dirty, costly fracked gas are the wrong direction for Hillsborough County. Ken Hagan’s Hillsborough County Commission must fight for Floridians and join us in demanding ‘NO MORE RATE HIKES!’”

Sierra Club Tampa Bay Organizing Representative Walter L. Smith, II MPH, LEP said: “The people of Hillsborough County deserve better than to have to constantly face challenges because of TECO’s continuous burning of fossil fuels. With rate increases, energy bills have gone up to the benefit of those shareholders who invest in TECO’s Canadian mother company, Emera. Meanwhile, people in the underserved frontline communities continue to suffer because of TECO’s bad practices that contribute to public health issues and economic strife. This devastation cannot go on. We are demanding that our Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners do what they were elected to do – protect the people. Commissioners need to stand up with the people and give their voices to the outcry to the PSC to stop this rate increase.”

Impacted community member & Central Florida Jobs with Justice leader Krystal Pate-Harris said: “I’m a mother of 6 on a fixed income. Each month I have to decide if my rent will be paid in full or if I’m paying TECO. The amount of money TECO is charging us, the consumer, is more than my car payment, my car insurance, my medical needs, and medicine for my household. Enough with your lies, TECO. Stop the greed, PSC. I’m also speaking on behalf of those who cannot come and speak and those who are afraid to speak. Please do not increase the rate and the TECO bill, for it will cause a lot of families to be without homes.”

League of United Latin American Citizens Council #7259 President David Sinclair said: “We need the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners to listen to the economic burdens of the low and medium-income residents of our county who are TECO customers, and stand with those of us who are against the  proposed TECO electric rate hike which threatens to once again squeeze our purse strings beyond which we cannot go further.”

Florida Rising Climate Justice Director MacKenzie Marcelin said: “The cost of living in Florida has gone up, from housing to property insurance, and with TECO’s proposed rate increase, it has become increasingly unaffordable. This dire situation is putting Floridians in an economic chokehold, especially for already marginalized communities. TECO’s rate increase request is what happens when corporate greed is not held accountable. If approved, it would force the people of Hillsborough into making tough decisions to keep their lights on, severely impacting their income and health. A fair and just energy system should ensure that all Floridians, especially the most vulnerable, have access to the affordable energy we need to live a quality life. And what TECO is asking to take from their customers is anything but that.”

genCLEO Tampa Campus Organizer Ashton Maddox said: “TECO’s proposed utility rate hikes are nothing more than a corporate cash grab on the backs of everyday citizens in Hillsborough County. While they claim rising costs are for their relocation of their offices away from rising sea levels, they are simultaneously investing in dirty non renewable energy facilities that exacerbate these issues. Hillsborough County deserves not only clean and affordable utilities, but also politicians that agree with these ideals. That is why we are urging the board of county commissioners to adopt a climate action and equity plan similar to the one the city of Tampa Bay has already adopted and say no to further dirty energy initiatives.”

Thursday’s rally is hosted by the Hillsborough Affordable Energy Coalition, a coalition of 20+ organizations and community groups fighting for affordable energy and climate action in Hillsborough County, including Food & Water Watch, Sierra Club, LULAC, League of Women Voters, Florida Rising, genCLEO, Central Florida Jobs with Justice.

Photos will be available here.

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