Utility bills to fall for most customers as Fort Pierce approves rate changes

FORT PIERCE, Fla. - Most customers of Fort Pierce Utilities Authority are expected to see a decrease in their monthly bills starting next month.

The City Commission voted 3-2 at its Monday night meeting to approve rate changes for electric, water, wastewater and gas services. The FPUA board approved the changes at its April 5 meeting.

Commissioners Rufus Alexander and Reggie Sessions voted against the changes.

The average customer with electric, water and wastewater services would see a $2.16 reduction in the total monthly bill, while the average customer with all four services would see a $1.47 decrease.

Based on average monthly residential usage of 1,000 kilowatt-hours electric use and 6,000 gallons water use, the commission approved a $4 decrease to electric, a $1.13 increase to wastewater, a 71-cent increase to water and a 69-cent increase to 13 cubic feet of natural gas.

FPUA Director Bill Thiess said officials plan to evaluate lowering the electric rate again next year. The costs for wastewater, waste and natural gas services will need small increases in the next five years.

FPUA has 27,859 electric customers, 19,048 water customers, 14,460 wastewater customers and 3,982 natural gas customers, said FPUA Communications Manager Levette Dixon.

Rate increases from 2007 to 2009 were designed to cover the cost of each service, but plans for follow-up increases in wastewater, water and natural gas changed because of the recession.

In the past three years, FPUA has cut costs by eliminating more than 20 positions, reducing capital spending 79 percent, restructuring its debt service to reduce debt payments and maintaining level operating and maintenance spending despite rising costs.

Now the electric service is making enough money, but the wastewater, water and natural gas services aren't.

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