TECO proposal the latest in surge of rate hikes, rising costs - FOX 13 News

TECO proposal the latest in surge of rate hikes, rising costs

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

Iliana Santini survives on her pension and social security.

So the thought of coughing up another $10 to pay her power bill makes her furious.

"For people who just depend on social security, it's going to be hard for them." said Santini.

And it may be hard for a lot of others, too.

"I know an average of $10 for some people will be quite a bit that's on a fixed income. And with the economy now, it's really hurting a lot of families here," Robert Brown said.

TECO wants to raise electric bills by 10 percent, which adds up to about $11 a month for the average customer.

The company blames sluggish growth and rising costs for the rate hike.

"We know there's never a good time to raise rates. We empathize with customers who, like us, are continuing to recover from the slow economy," said TECO spokeswoman Sherrie Jacobs.

TECO claims their rates are 5 percent lower than the rest of the country. However, they are spending $950 million to buy a natural gas company.

"This is a bad idea. Anything that's going to increase base rate increases during this economic time is probably not a very good idea," says Michelle Cyr of AARP.

But TECO is not the only one grabbing at your wallet.

Citizens Insurance is, too. The Public Services Commission already approved their raise.

Homeowner insurance rates went up nearly 11 percent this year. Sinkhole coverage jumped by 21 percent.

Don't forget to add the rising cost of car insurance, medicine and groceries.

And for many, the money coming in hasn't kept up.

"It's very difficult to scrounge up another $10, so $10 could mean the difference between their utility bill and having food on the table," Cyr said.

The rate hike could take effect next year but first it has to be approved by the Public Service Commission.

If you missed tonight's meeting, you can still let them know what you think tomorrow.

There's another public hearing in Winter Haven at 10 a.m.

It's being held in the Poolside Room at the "Chain of Lakes" complex.

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