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Friday, November 7, 2008

Utility Consultant’s Report To City Reveals Possible Overpricing By Florida Public Utilities

By Sid Riley

Marianna residents now paying highest rate in state of Florida

"From the lowest to the highest in only eight months". This extreme swing in relative statistics is not a stock market swing, a global warming statistic, or a FCAT score….it is the change in the cost Marianna residents are paying Florida Public Utilities for electric service. At a special meeting with the Marianna City Commission last Thursday, Utilities Consultant Bill Herrington with W.H.H. Enterprises presented a special report which provided comparative pricing of FPU rates per 1000 kilowatt hours to other utilities around the state.

At present, the lowest rate a residential customer using only 1000 kilowatt hours in Marianna could achieve for power is $120.00 (not including added fees and taxes). This was shown to be the highest residential rate in the State of Florida. Another revealing statistic shown in the presentation was a comparison of the Marianna rate to what Gulf Power is charging their residential customers, which is $99.00 per 1000 kilowatt hours. This is a +20% increase in cost, and Florida Public Utilities purchases their power from Gulf Power. The remarkable difference in ultimate pricing to the consumer could not be explained.

From this data, it would appear that FPU is using its monopolistic position in Marianna to justify a maximum in pricing from the Florida Public Service Commission….at the expense of the citizens of Marianna.

The Marianna City Commission is proceeding with an evaluation of the feasibility of purchasing the delivery infrastructure from FPU instead of merely renewing their franchise with the city. The next step in this process, as recommended by Herrington would be to determine the cost of severance and reconnection the city would encounter as it connected with the delivery system. This next study would cost $4500, and was unanimously approved by the Commissioners.

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