Florida residents struggle to pay rising electric bills

Is your budget busted by higher gas and food prices? The cost of using an air conditioner doesn’t help with the bills as the summer heat ramps up. Some seniors say their recent utility bills are so high they can’t pay them and need help.According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average home’s monthly electric bill in Florida is a little more than $125, which is about 13% higher than the national average.A group of seniors in Delray Beach showed WPTV their monthly bills, which were almost three times that amount. “How many of your last electric bills were as high or almost as high as what you’ve ever paid?” asked Contact 5 reporter Dave Bohman.All of them raised their hands. WPTV’s news partner at the Palm Beach Post reported in January that Florida Power & Light raised its rates in 2022 by about $20 per 1,000 kilowatt-hours or about 18%.The seniors said that the rate hike is showing up big time this summer. “How many of you are going to have trouble paying your bills?” Bohman asked. Six of the eight people raised their hands. Veronica Bowleg, 66, will have more trouble than most other people.She just received last month’s bill, and she’s already a month behind. “The total bill was $592.09 for two months,” Bowleg said as she opened the envelope. “A lot of money.”That’s too much for a woman who can’t work because of her disabilities, and who now helps raise her granddaughter after the untimely death of her son. “My Social Security is not getting any higher, but my bills are getting higher and higher,” Bowleg said.She asked WPTV where she could turn for help, and we guided her to the Palm Beach County Community Services Department, which offers programs that help veterans, senior citizens and people with low incomes pay their bills. James Green, the department’s director, said he is seeing more people asking for help. “I think with things like inflation and the price of food going up, and gas and so many other things that people’s finances are spread thin,” Green said.There is some help out there, programs right here in the Tampa Bay area. Hillsborough CountyPinellas CountyPasco CountyPolk CountySarasota County

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