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    Pensacola considers own electric utility as FP&L customers struggle with bills

    January 27, 2022 - Cody Long


      PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) -- As many Northwest Florida families are struggling with electricity bills skyrocketing the past two months, the City of Pensacola is considering a feasibility study to see if it could start its own electric utility.

      There was a packed room at Pensacola city hall Wednesday night full of people who are angry and concerned about a sudden spike in their Florida Power and Light bills.

      "I'm worried because it's the winter time," DaShaun McKenzie said. "We're in a cold front right now. So if it's that high now, I'm worried about what it's going to be come April, May, June when the summer time hits."

      McKenzie is a teacher with a second job struggling to pay his bill that's more than double what it normally is. He lives in Pensacola and supports a feasibility study.

      "If this bill is going to keep jumping up, If it's going to double or triple by summertime, that's going to affect my budget," McKenzie said. "I'm going to be looking for a third job by that point because how else am I going to cover these costs?"

      Florida Power & Light, formerly Gulf Power, said the base rate increase is part of a four-year plan. By the end, the company says rates will be lower than they were in 2021.

      "They have obtained a monopoly because there's nobody to fight them," said Ashley Lucas.

      Lucas said after she pays her bill, she will have very little money left to spend.

      "I immediately knew I was going to be here tonight when I saw the prices," Lucas said. "It went from $240 which came out 12/28 then this month was $373 and it was today and by the 26th of February it's going to be $500."

      If the city starts its own electric utility, experts said there's no guarantee it would make rates lower. The council could also decide to put it on a referendum and let voters decide.

      The feasibility study would cost between $20,000 and $30,000. The city council just had a discussion Wednesday night and did not vote. About two dozen people addressed the council.


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