Commission votes to drop utility rates again

Residential customers can expect a 3.5 percent decrease to utility bills, and businesses will experience a decrease of 4 to 4.5 percent, contingent on the size. This brings the percentage to 27 percent below what it was in 2008. The decrease has saved citizens a reported $110 million annually.

City Commissioner Andrew Gillum in a press release said, “the cost of energy represents a substantial portion of a household’s budget. Thus, the goal is to provide important financial relief to customers while also helping to stimulate the local economy.” Gillum is the lead commissioner on the city’s Financial Viability of the Government target issue committee.

Florida A&M music industry student Reese Clark said utilities account for a large portion of his bills despite sharing the cost with roommates. “Hopefully I will have a little extra money in my pocket,” Clark said. “Definitely they should continue to lower the rates; especially with this being a big college town.”

The adjustment to the rates comes two months early; so customers can reduce their costs during the colder months of January and February. January is typically the coldest month in Florida, according to a survey done by James B. Lushine with the Weather Forecasting Office of the National Weather Service in Miami.

Cheaper electricity could lead to warmer homes this winter, one student said. “People normally don’t want to turn on the heater because it burns more electricity, so the lower rate will be better. Now they can actually consider turning on the heater,” said Lauren Johnson, a 19-year-old nursing student from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

The rates, which are adjusted semi-annually, reflect the cost to run local power plants. Tallahassee’s electricity rates averaged $121.10 for residential and $154.91 for commercial users before the reduction. The new average for residential users will equate to $116.83; below that of the state, which in 2009 was $122.28. Florida historically is one of the larger consumers of energy in the country due to the use of air-conditioning in the summer and heaters during the winter, according the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

“It’s all about offering choices, and being able to look at the economy,” said Sandra Manning, Utility Marketing Administrator with the City of Tallahassee.