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St. Lucie County residents struggle with rising energy costs amid heat wave

Taneal Burgess says her monthly bill was more than $600
Posted at 7:16 PM, Jul 12, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-12 19:21:03-04

FORT PIERCE, Fla. — The sweltering heat is now causing homeowners on the Treasure Coast to sweat and for more reasons than one.

Many families told WPTV they're now struggling with rising energy bills, a compounding factor for many as Florida remains the hotspot for inflation.

Taneal Burgess, a visiting home nurse in St. Lucie County, said she's working three jobs to help cover the rising energy costs and inflation.

"It’s hard," Burgess said.

Taneal Burgess said her monthly electric bill is more than $600. July 12, 2023.
Taneal Burgess said her monthly electric bill is more than $600.

She and her husband have six kids, and even with their combined four incomes, she said getting a more than $600 bill is tough.

"Yeah, it is," Burgess said. "This is probably the only time I can recall having to struggle and seeing the struggle with the rising cost of everything.”

As a visiting home nurse, she sees the struggle first hand.

"A lot of the seniors in this community are struggling," Burgess said. "They don't have any more income coming in to spare on rising electric costs. So they have to make determinations, do I get this prescription this month or not?"

Other customers said similar things. One Fort Pierce Utility Customer told WPTV his bill went from $238 to $533. On top of that, his rent doubled from $1,650 per month to $2,400, forcing him to look for work out of state: The cost of living in South Florida was too difficult to keep up with.

A Florida Power & Light customer showed WPTV his bill projection. In July, his bill was $211. His projected bill was $582.


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WPTV reached out to the Fort Pierce Utility Authority and FPL.

FPUA told WPTV they are working on our request. The City of Fort Pierce did establish an organization called Project Care to provide emergency assistance to those in danger of losing utility service.

FPL told WPTV that people are using more energy this time of year because we are entering the hottest months, and air conditioners have to work longer and harder to maintain the same temperatures.

A spokesperson said simply raising your thermostat by a degree can save customers up to 5% per month on their bills.

Earlier this month, FPL also announced a recent fuel reduction initiative, which the company said has already had a positive impact, and that customers have seen a decrease in fuel charges as of July 1.



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Yet as Burgess heads to her many jobs, she hopes her story will fall on the ears of those she says need to listen.

“I feel like our state legislation, legislators, our city managers need to do more, and I know their hands are full but when the people speak out they need to listen more," said Burgess.

FPL also encouraged customers to reach out to their customer service team to discuss any concerns they may have regarding their bills or energy consumption. If you've seen a dramatic rate hike, FPL will investigate it for you.

Customers who wish to review their energy usage can do so through FPL's online Energy Manager tool. The free Energy Manager tool can help you monitor your daily usage and identify which actions increase how much energy your home uses.