“So, when Wixon wrote, ‘…Vero Beach officials repeatedly said they tried to reduce rates,’ she is simply not reporting the truth. For in truth, Vero Electric’s rates have come down, while FPL’s rates have and will continue to rise.”
In a story on the latest proposed contract between Vero Beach and Florida Power and Light for the sale of Vero Electric, Press Journal/TCPalm reporter Colleen Wixon wrote, “For their part, Vero Beach officials repeatedly said they tried to reduce rates for all customers.”
In fact, over the past four years, Vero Electric’s rate for 1000 kilowatt hours of power has come down 11.2%, while FPL’s rate has risen 6.6%. Still further rate increases for FPL, already approved by the Florida Public Service Commission, are set for the next few years. In addition to these scheduled FPL rate hikes, the company recently announced it will be seeking PSC approval to assess additional storm recovery charges.
In total, coming rate increases for FPL could well erase any rate differential between Vero Electric and the state’s largest investor owned utility.
Apparently, these facts are not worthy of reporting by Wixon and her editors, who seem to have carried out a years-long effort to help FPL mislead Vero Beach residents about the supposed advantages of selling their electric utility.
Why would the Press Journal be “in bed” with FPL? For starters, FPL is one of the newspaper’s major advertisers. Currently, tens of thousands of dollars in FPL money is going into a disinformation campaign designed to lead the people of Vero Beach to believe they will save 20 percent or more on their electric bills, if and when Vero Electric is handed over to FPL.
Beyond the financial considerations, the Press Journal and TCPalm.com have another tie to FPL. The newspapers’ publisher is married to a key FPL executive who is working on the FPL team attempting to acquire Vero Electric.
So, when Wixon wrote, “…Vero Beach officials repeatedly said they tried to reduce rates,” she is simply not reporting the truth. For in truth, Vero Electric’s rates have come down, while FPL’s rates have and will continue to rise.
The Press Journal has seemingly gone along in participating in what appears to be a well-orchestrated and wide conspiracy to mislead Vero Beach residents about their power rates. On social media, and in comments to news reporting, greatly exaggerated claims are being made about rates.
For example, InsideVero recently received the following comment from a commenter identifying themselves as Patricia Little. “City of Vero Beach utilities is a total ripoff!! I’ve lived in the same home for almost 20 years and have never paid as much as I do now for my utility bill! I’m 1 person in a 1 story house and don’t have a pool. I hardly use the dryer and use cold water to wash. Last month my bill was $247. Add that to my mortgage, car payment, house insurance and phone and at the age of 64 I have to go look for a part time job in order to live here. It’s just ridiculous! Something must be done!!”
A check of public records reveals that the City issued an August 7, 2017 invoice to a Patricia Little for $171.74 for 1320 kilowatts of powers. On August 7, 2013 the City issued an invoice to a Patricia Little for $240.74 for 1651 kilowatts of power. In 2013, Little paid 14.5 cents per kilowatt hour. In 2017, she paid the City 13 cents per kilowatt hour. Her 2017 bill was lower than her 2013 bill, partly because of lower consumption, and partly because Vero Electric rates have come down.
Despite these facts, the disinformation campaign continues. Sadly, rather than setting the record straight, the Press Journal is perpetuating the myth that the sale of Vero Electric will be of great advantage to the people of Vero Beach.