FORT PIERCE, Florida — If you live in Fort Pierce and have Fort Pierce Public Utilities Authority As a utility company, you’ve probably noticed an increase in your electric bill this month.
A rate hike has led some people to protest outside the FPUA, while others showed up at an FPUA board meeting to express how expensive bills are forcing them to scramble to find ways to pay them.
A woman was holding a sign that read “Choices??? Buy food or pay high utilities.
The owner of Sweetie’s Diner also posted a message on his outside sign that read, “FPUA utility bill going up? Call Mayor Hudson. Owner Rick Reed said his electric bill went up nearly $2,000 last month.
Other owners present at the meeting showed WPTV their latest invoices.
“Generally my bill ranges from $230 to $260 and when I got my bill it was around $450,” said customer Antonio Akl.
We asked, “Have you ever had such a high bill?” “Never,” Akl said.
Customer Tonya Edenfield also had a big increase in her electricity bill.
“Last month my bill was $316 and my bill this month is $511.”
Bills nearly double during an already difficult time for families.
“I’m a single mom of three,” Edenfield said. “I have a 2,500 square foot house, but between my mortgage, daycare, full-time work, three other jobs trying to make ends meet, school supplies for three kids, and school clothes, it’s is a lot. »
After Tuesday’s utility board meeting, board chairman Frank Fee said the rate hike was largely due to the rising cost of natural gas that powers the network that serves the few 28,000 FPUA customers, according to its website.
“Right now the biggest help we really need is natural gas to come down,” Fee said.
“We have been aggressive in increasing our PCA [Power Cost adjustment] early when we noticed we were going to see some volatile markets and the goal was to get in there now and hopefully we’ll be the first out,” Fee said.
But this decision to raise rates early means they are rising at a time when bills would already be at their highest.
“Right now we’re starting the scorching summer days, it’s the worst time to have these issues,” Fee said.
Fee said they are looking for cost-cutting options and putting their feet on the ground to help people with the biggest bills.
“It’s definitely something that worries me, and I think management are going to look into it. They have a list of all the addresses of these people with these high bills and I hope they do, I’m almost sure they will come out and look at the meters and make sure everything is as it should be.
In the meantime, Fee offers this advice:
“Just watch your intake as best you can.”