Local News

As Temperatures Rise, So Will Electricity Bills

Posted June 11, 2003 5:55 a.m. EDT

— Air conditioning costs might be expensive enough to make a person sweat this summer. Prices are expected to reach their highest peak in two decades during July, August and September.

Electricity prices are expected to increase about four percent because of higher costs for natural gas. That's an extra $8 a month for Cathy Davis, whose utility bill can top $200 during the hot summer months.

"It is high enough as it is," Davis said. "I think it is going to be really high because of the weather. Hopefully, they are not taking advantage of the fact that it is going to be another hot summer."

People might wonder how the price of natural gas affects their electricity bill. The plants that make electricity are powered by natural gas. When the utility companies have to pay more to power those plants, they pass the price increase to the customers.

"There is something called a fuel charge on your electricity bill," said Keith Poston of Progress Energy. "That is a direct pass-through from the company.

"We don't make any extra money. But what we do is charge the customer for the exact amount of fuel that we pay to generate that electricity."

According to experts, the amount of power a person uses has a bigger impact on the bill than the rate that person pays. People can cut their cooling costs up to 25 percent just by turning up their thermostat and closing blinds that let in the sun.

Progress Energy asked the Utilities Commission this week for a rate hike of about $1.50 a month. That increase won't take effect until October.