Lakeland Electric Holding Sessions on Base Rate Increase

Lakeland Electric is holding three public meetings this week on a proposed rate increase that would add about $2.50 a month to the average home customer’s utility bill. An in-person meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the RP Funding Center. In addition, online-only meetings are scheduled for tonight and Thursday.

Utility staffers will explain the reasons for the rate change and take comment at the meetings. They have set up a web page to explain the new rates proposed to take effect in October.

The online “virtual meetings” are scheduled for 5:30 p.m. tonight and Thursday. You can sign in on this page, which includes links for access the meeting via web browsers and mobile devices.

Lakeland Electric asks that participants RSVP for any of the three meetings.

LINKS

The part of the electric rate that would be increased is called the base rate. It pays for facility improvements and operating costs, but not fuel.

Before the increase can take effect, it must be passed first by the city’s Utility Committee and then by the City Commission following a public hearing. Tentatively, the Utility Committee will decide on the rate increase July 2 at a 1 p.m. meeting and the City Commission will make its decision Aug. 6 at a 10 a.m. meeting.

The last increase in the base rate went into effect in February 2015.

The proposed rate is 3 percent above the current base rate and would add $2.43 to the base rate for a residential customer using 1,200 kilowatt hours a month, which is considered an average amount, according to Lakeland Electric.

That would raise the total electric bill about 1.8 percent. For the home customer using 1,200 kilowatt hours a month, that would mean an electric bill of $131.89 for customers within city limits and $140.61 outside city limits.

Utility managers give several reasons the increase is needed. Among them:

  • Expenses have grown around 1.4 percent per year since 2015, which they note is less than the inflation rate.
  • Investment in infrastructure have averaged about $35 million a year, but should be closer to $39 million to match the rate of depreciation. “This increased spending on capital is a cost we know we will have to undertake over the next three to five years to address our aging infrastructure,” the utility says in its online FAQ.

Lakeland Electric’s rate proposal also includes changes to some of their alternative residential rates and to commercial and industrial rates.

Here is our Twitter coverage of last week’s Utility Committee meeting, followed by the slides about the rates presented at that meeting:

June 18 rate presentation:

View a larger version