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Fort Pierce residents, business owners shocked by electric bill hike

Bait shop owner paying about $800 more than previous months
Fort Pierce Utility Authority
Posted at 5:45 PM, Jul 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-21 09:23:01-04

FORT PIERCE, Fla.  — Some utility customers in Fort Pierce said they were astonished after seeing this month's electric bill.

One small business owner said his bill is higher than his mortgage.

RELATED: Fort Pierce Utilities Authority customers see power bills double from rate hike

Bait shop owner Jay Sohan said his electric bill is a whopping $2,500, which is about $800 higher than it’s been the last couple months.

"I'm worried about paying my mortgage because the bill is like a mortgage itself," Sohan said. "The bill is actually higher than my mortgage."

 Jay Sohan, Fort Pierce bait shop owner
Jay Sohan discusses the struggles to pay his electric bill after the price hike this month.

The local utility, Fort Pierce Utility Authority (FPUA), is imposing a power cost adjustment fee, which is tied to the rising costs of natural gas.

Javier Cisneros, the director of this small utility with over 30,000 customers, said they are at the mercy of a national emergency on natural gas supplies and the price.

"We absolutely sympathize with our customers," Cisneros said.

The bloated bills are now threatening Sohan's business.

He's already switched to LED lighting and energy-efficient equipment. He said his next step is unplugging the beer cooler of his business.

Javier Cisneros, Fort Pierce Utility Authority director
Javier Cisneros outlines why the Fort Pierce Utility Authority imposed a power cost adjustment on customers' bills.

"I speak for all small business people, what are we going to do? How are we going to survive," Sohan said.

FPUA said they're looking for solutions.

"We do have a special payment arrangement option where they can take the month and pay a portion of it and then take the rest and pay it over time for this high month," Sohan said.

FPUA said they will contact Sohan about a payment plan.

Cisneros said the current situation is creating a volatile price market, leading the utility to evaluate its pricing twice a month.

However, currently, there's no sign the costs will go down.