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Natural Awakenings Northwest Florida

Gulf Power Proposal Would Harm Environment, Smaller Ratepayers

Mar 04, 2017 06:32AM

How would you like to owe almost $50 on your electric bill every month—before you flip the first light switch? That’s what will happen if Gulf Power’s proposed rate increase is approved. The new rate structure would penalize ratepayers who use less electricity and benefit larger users, encouraging wasteful overconsumption. Since more than 90 percent of local electricity is made by burning coal and natural gas, that means more air and water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

Gulf Power is proposing a major increase to the monthly base rate—the fixed amount customers pay just to have service, regardless of whether they use it—from $18 to nearly $50. Homeowners who take steps to conserve energy—turning off lights, adjusting their thermostats or adding insulation or solar panels—will be penalized under this rate structure, as will apartments dwellers, who generally use less electricity. 

“Last year, I lowered my monthly bill significantly, partly because I’d had trouble paying it the previous year, and partly to try to conserve energy to help the environment,” says Bev Perry, a board member of 350 Pensacola, which uses science-based advocacy to educate local residents about environmental issues, climate change and energy use. “The proposed increase in the base rate will make those efforts to lower my bill almost meaningless. Low-income people and those with small homes, like me, will be hurt by the increase, as will those who try to lower their usage through renewable energy and conservation.”

Part of the justification for Gulf Power’s proposed rate increase is to fund its part ownership of the coal-fired Plant Scherer in Macon, Georgia, which is the highest greenhouse-gas-emitting plant in the nation and has been investigated for contaminating local drinking water supplies. 

Send your comments on this proposal to the Public Service Commission at [email protected]. For more information, visit Facebook.com/350pensacola.

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