After offering consumers a break for two months to help with the financial impacts of the coronavirus, city commissioners have raised Lakeland Electric’s fuel charge to a level close to April’s rate.

A fuel charge of 2.8 cents per kilowatt-hour was approved by the Lakeland City Commission and its utility committee last week; that’s up .8 cents from the temporary May-June rate of 2.0 cents approved two months ago, which at the time was the lowest rate in 17 years.

A month before offering the temporary break, commissioners had approved a 2.7-cent rate for the April-through-June quarter. The newer 2.8-cent rate takes effect July 2.

“The new fuel charge will continue the utility’s effort to return to our target fuel reserve balance this fiscal year,” Lakeland Electric said in a news release.

For a residential customer using 1,000 kWh per month, that represents an increase in the fuel charge from $20 to $28 a month. Combined with the $64.77 base charge, the total bill goes up $8 from $84.77 to $92.77 starting July 2.

For years, 1,000 kWh per month was considered the typical residential bill, though utility officials concede that the average is somewhat higher these days.

Several other Tampa Bay-area utilities, including Tampa Electric and Duke Energy, also reduced rates in April in response to coronavirus-related consumer pressures.

The chart below shows historic trends in Lakeland Electric’s fuel charge per 1,000 kWh and includes a projection of $36 for the final quarter of 2020:

Click the chart to see a larger version.

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Barry Friedman founded in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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