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Lee County Electric Cooperative explains hike in electric bill

How to save money on your electric bill this winter
Posted at 6:28 PM, Jun 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-01 05:29:32-04

LEE COUNTY, Fla. — Back in April, we first told you how Lee County Electric Cooperative (LCEC) warned customers that supply chain issues would lead to a higher cost of power.

But now, this is pointing to a new issue: the cost to supply power.

Thursday, LCEC explained that the cost to generate power is going up sharply. With that, customers will have to pay more.

Starting in July, LCEC customers will see an increase in their electric bills.

When it comes to a customer's bill, there are two components. One portion is the base rate, which is what LCEC controls and adjusts. The other portion is the power cost. That is where the higher cost is coming from.

"The cost to generate has gone up extremely," said Karen Ryan, a spokeswoman for LCEC. “We don’t generate power, we purchase power from a power supplier.”

That power supplier is Florida Power & Light. Ryan said it's more expensive for FPL to supply energy because it costs so much more, especially fuel and materials. This results in a higher price coming out of FPL for LCEC to try and manage.

So, how much is the increase? LCEC said for a customer that uses 1,000-kilowatt hours, the bill could be about $150. That's up a little more than 20 percent. As this third power cost adjustment in a year for LCEC, we asked if they are looking at other options, including finding another supplier.

FPL was not available for an interview.

"They have a very diverse fuel mix, so they have solar, they have gas, they have nuclear, they take advantage of the least expensive way to generate power - so they don’t have to pass the cost to us and our customers,” Ryan said.

Ryan adds that LCEC and FPL are not padding profits from higher costs. However, LCEC did say that when fuel costs go down, the costs for power should also go down.