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New Utility Legislation Will Increase Financial Strain on Older Floridians

Bills making their way through the Florida Legislature will end up lining the pockets of utility companies and their executives. It’s time to stop this greed, writes AARP Florida State Director Jeff Johnson.

This article is sponsored by AARP Florida

AARP Florida often hears from our members and others across the state who are actively struggling with rising costs of living. From the price of groceries to fuel and housing, everything is going up. These increased costs include our utility bills. To make matters worse, elected officials in Tallahassee are moving legislation that will allow utility companies to charge more for the power we already use.

Senate Bill 1162 and House Bill 821 will allow Florida utility companies to earn a profit on higher-cost fuel sources, including hydrogen and renewable natural gas. Fuel costs have always been passed through directly to consumers without allowing utilities to profit; now lawmakers want us to pay to line the pockets of utility companies and their executives.

As the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan member organization, AARP has been fighting for decades to keep utility costs low and affordable because we know how much these bills impact older Floridians, especially those living on fixed incomes. AARP Florida has 2.8 million members and volunteers in the Sunshine State, and we’re mobilizing them to spread the word about this legislation, and the bill increases that will happen if this proposed law passes.

Floridians should not have to pay more just because utility companies are becoming increasingly greedy. Our electric utility bills are already 18 percent higher than those in New York and nearly 10% higher than people living in California. Many people dream of retiring in Florida, but with continued increasing living costs, the average person will not be able to afford it.

Unfortunately, rising utility bills are not new in Florida. Over the last several years, average utility bills have increased significantly for customers serviced by investor-owned utilities (FPL, Duke and TECO), causing strain on families and older adults trying to make ends meet. In the last five years on average, Florida Power & Light (FPL) bills increased 34 percent for Florida families, while Duke Energy bills increased 40 percent and TECO bills increased 43 percent.

At AARP, we will keep fighting to make sure our state and local elected officials recognize the impact of rising utility costs on older adults. These cost increases are going to create undue hardship for many families and others who are vulnerable, while utility companies are making more money than ever before.

Florida families can’t afford another bill increase. Together, we must stop utility company greed. I urge you to call your state elected officials and ask them to vote NO on SB 1162 and HB 821.

Call your state senator: 1-866-311-1801.
Call your state representative: 1-888-344-4699.