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Gulf Power Rates Set To Rise

  Starting this month, Gulf Power customers will see a rise in their electric rates. The hike is aimed at covering fuel costs associated with generating electricity.

The average residential customer will now pay $139.29 for 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity. That’s up from $132.

Natalie Smith at Gulf Power says the Florida Public Service Commission allows expenses such as power plant fuel to be passed along to consumers, but they are not allowed to earn a profit on fuel charges.

Originally, Gulf Power filed a request with the Public Service Commission, which would have increased the cost for a residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours by nearly $11 per month by the end of this year. Smith says a small part of the $7.29 increase is a hike in the utility’s base rate, which allows Gulf Power to increase its revenue through base rates by $35 million with another 20 million boost.

It’s also expected to provide 42 months of rate stability for Gulf Power Company’s more than 430,000 customers.

For those having problems in paying their bill, a number of programs are available, such as “Budget Billing,” in which the total amount is spread out over several payments.

Gulf Power also offers to come to homes, inspect them, and then make recommendations on how to save energy and money. And there also are little things everyone can do – such as setting your thermostat to 68 degrees, and your water heater to a lower temperature.

Another significant part of the settlement includes new incentives for job creation. Those are projected to reduce the amounts that businesses pay for electricity by a certain percentage for four years -- if the firms meet certain eligibility requirements.

More information on the rate hike, and how to cut the numbers on your power bill can be found at www.gulfpower.com.