Your electric bill is made up of multiple components, most of which are directly tied to how much electricity you use. When we experience warm weather, customers use more electricity to run their air conditioning system. As 50% to 60% of the electricity, we supply to our Lake Worth Beach Electric Utility customers is produced using natural gas. Over the last year, natural gas prices have doubled due to reasons beyond our direct control, and current forecasts are for natural gas prices to remain high throughout the rest of the year. Fortunately, almost 40% of our electricity supply comes from nuclear and solar, both of which are unaffected by natural gas prices.
The cost of the fuel to produce our electricity is passed on to our customers with no markup and is included in the power cost adjustment line (PCA) on your bill. Because natural gas fuel is experiencing significantly increased demand globally, combined with the inability of our national infrastructure of operating wells and pipelines to keep up with demand, prices nationwide are increasing.
What is the City doing to manage costs?
We understand you don’t want to pay more for electricity. The City is a member and owner of the Florida Municipal Power Agency (FMPA), which supplies a large portion of our electric power. We are working with FMPA to optimize operations of the power plants in which we participate to keep costs affordable. This includes having recently refinanced debt on our share of the St. Lucie Nuclear Power Plant when interest rates were at historic lows. We also benefit from our membership in Florida Gas Utility, an organization serving municipal utilities, which obtains natural gas for our electric generation needs at discounted rates and generates revenue for us using our pipeline capacity. And we also enjoy a very competitive and cost-effective contract with Orlando Utilities Commission for supplemental electric energy and capacity. Together these cost-saving efforts enable us to keep electricity affordable, so much so that our residential electric rates are ranked in the lowest cost quartile in the state.
How long will these high bills last?
Higher energy costs are affecting everyone, and we expect prices to remain high for the foreseeable future. Please know that we are doing everything we can to manage our costs. Global events, such as regional conflicts, international demands on oil and natural gas markets, and national energy policy all affect energy prices. We encourage you to remain aware of these events and to use the power of your voice as affected and concerned citizens in responsible communications with your state and federal elected representatives who are in the best position to effect needed changes.
Is there anything I can do to better manage and reduce my bill?
Yes. You too can help by managing your use of electricity. The most immediate action you can take is by adjusting your thermostat to decrease cooling when not needed, keeping windows and doors closed, and implementing energy conservation measures such as LED lighting, increased attic insulation, and more efficient air conditioning systems and appliances.
Because we live in Florida, the driving factor for energy use is the air conditioner which makes our lives more comfortable. The best way to manage your energy use is to maintain your thermostat temperature at 78°F during the warm months. Additionally, setting the thermostat to an even higher temperature while the house is empty – especially during the hot summer months – can help you save even more each month on your bill.
The Electric Utility page on Lake Worth Beach’s City website has a useful link to a self-guided energy audit. And, as our customer, we’re available to perform a free energy audit of your home to help you find ways to reduce your bills.
Lake Worth Beach Electric utility Director