Higher electric rates clears first hurdle before council votes

VERO BEACH — Proposed increases to Vero Beach’s base electric rate have cleared their first hurdles before the city council holds in mid-November its first of two required public hearings.

The Florida Public Service Commission approved the city’s proposed 12.7 percent increase to the base rate on Oct. 21. Notice was sent to the city Thursday.

“We take at face value the amount they say they need to operate,” said Public Service Commission Director of Communication Cindy Muir. She added that the PSC has little latitude when reviewing municipalities’ rate requests. Aside from accepting the rates as reasonable, the commission also reviews the rates to be sure that the increases are equitable across all customer levels.

While the council had sought the increase to the base rate, the council also approved removing a 10 percent out-of-city-surcharge, which is assessed on city electric customers who live outside the city’s limits.

Other charges that will be tacked onto electric bills include state sales tax, a utility tax of 10 percent on city residents, a hurricane recovery fund charge of 2 percent, a county fee-in-lieu-of-franchise-fee of 6 percent to those who live outside the city, and a state gross receipts tax of 2.56 percent.

Now that the base rate’s increase has been approved, the Vero Beach City Council will hold a public hearing on Nov. 17 with a final hearing a vote scheduled for Dec. 1.

The Vero Beach City Council could have two new members seated at the dais if voters choose not to re-elect incumbents Debra Fromang and Bill Fish.

Despite the proposed increase to the base rate, city officials have continued to say that electric bills for city customers will drop once the city switches to the Orlando Utility Commission.

That switch from the Florida Municipal Power Agency to the OUC is expected to occur on Jan. 1, though customers won’t see a change in their electric bills until February.

Related Articles

Leave a Comment