Tampa, Florida -- As you turn up the heat to a stay warm during the cold winter nights, there is some news that might send a chill down your spin.
Governor-elect Rick Scott's transition team is recommending an increase in residential utility rates. The plan is all part of Scott's commitment to bring more jobs to Florida. The transition team is recommending a drop in utility rates for new or expanding businesses, and the difference would be picked up by residential customers and existing businesses.
Craig Chalmers -- who knows about bright ideas -- is the owner of Light Bulbs Unlimited. He says anything that helps business will light up the economy.
Chalmers says rates for businesses have gone up in the past few years, and something has to be done to help stimulate new businesses and businesses that expand. He says businesses have to start hiring people to get out of the slump in this recession.
But Dave Bruns, the communication director of AARP in Florida, says this proposal is not a smart thing to do in the floundering economy. Bruns says this is the worst idea out of Tallahassee since Florida Light and Power and Progress Energy Florida proposed millions of dollars of in rate hikes during the middle of the recession last year.
Aside from being good for new and expanding businesses, critics say the proposal is also good for utilities. Bill Newton of the Florida Consumer Action Network says he believes it is a payback for utilities supporting the new governor and legislators.
Newton points out electric utilities have contributed $25,000 each to the Scott inauguration and they are one of the biggest campaign contributors to legislators. Newton says utilities have an interest in development, because they have new power plants they want to build and sell more electricity.
Progress Energy told us it has nothing to say about the proposal or our story, while TECO never returned our calls.
Newton says those who might have to pay higher rates for electricity should be upset with the proposal, because it is a bad deal for consumers.
The Florida Chamber of Commerce and The Florida Municipal Electric Association support the plan, saying while it might result in higher bill for consumers, the benefits outweigh the negatives.
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Mike Deeson, 10 News