Vero Beach City Council to hear justification for electric rate increase

VERO BEACH — Higher than estimated costs to purchase power have prompted City of Vero Beach staff to increase rates by $4.00 on a 1,000 kilowatt hour bill beginning in January.

The 3.7 percent increase being recommended by Customer Service Manager John Lee will be discussed Tuesday at the regular city council meeting. According to meeting documents, the staff can implement the increase without any action by the Vero Beach City Council.

As Vero is not a regulated utility, the increase can go into effect without oversight from an agency like the Florida Public Service Commission.

Customer using 1,000 kilowatt hours of power per month will see their electric bill go from $109.14 to $113.14. A customer with a more typical usage for Vero Beach will see about a $10 per month increase.

The increase will appear in the “Electric Service — Fuel Cost” portion of the bill and will apply to meter readings done on or after July 1.

The new rate of $113.14 for 1,000 kilowatt hours is approximately 20 percent higher than the $94.03 Florida Power and Light customers pay for the same electricity. FP&L rates are frozen through 2012.

The “rate adjustment” being put in place is not enough to recoup the $5.6 million that the electric utility is currently behind in net income for the year. If the city were to wish to get back on track with budgeted revenues for the utility, other incremental rate increases could follow later in the year.

Over the course of 12 months, the 3.7 percent increase would bring in an additional $3.3 million if prices for power remain stable from here on out and there are no other unexpected hikes in the price Vero pays for wholesale power which it resells to its customers.

In other matters on the agenda, council members have asked for updates on GAI Consultants progress on projects, appraisals and studies of the electric, water and sewer system.

Up for consideration is a proposal from GAI Consultants for an additional $35,000 worth of work to issue a Request for Qualifications to potential bidders who might want to purchase the city’s rights to buy power through the Florida Municipal Power Agency cooperative. Under the proposal GAI would draft the RFQ, reach out to the bidders and evaluate the responses.

This $35,000 would be on top of the $238,000 the Vero City Council has already agreed to spend on consulting and appraisal work for the electric utility and $173,000 in studies and appraisals on the water-sewer system.

The Vero Beach City Council will meet at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday at City Hall in the Council Chambers. The meeting will be televised live on Comcast Channel 13 and via live stream on the internet at

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