TECO rates hinge on US Supreme Court decision - WNCN: News, Weather

TECO rates hinge on US Supreme Court decision

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Coal-fired plants like Big Bend have targets on their backs. Coal-fired plants like Big Bend have targets on their backs.

On any day of any week, you can see it from miles away.

Stacks spewing high into the sky, a smokey white substance at the Big Bend power plant.

That white smoke contains a mixture of what the EPA calls greenhouse gases. The government claims those gases are responsible for global warming.

Big Bend burns coal, the "dirtiest" fuel available.

During a 10 year period Tampa Electric Company invested, and you paid, $1.2 billion dollars for state-of-the-art environmental equipment to reduce those emissions.

The Obama administration wants more: a 30 percent reduction in carbon pollution by the year 2030. That is sitting in the lap of the U.S. Supreme Court.

This all means your electric bill is likely to jump. Some experts predict it will jump significantly, because coal-fired plants like Big Bend have targets on their backs.

According to Cherie Jacobs, 60 percent of TECO's power comes from coal-burning plants.

"It's reasonable to assume that the new proposed regulations will increase the costs of Tampa Electric customers because of the changes that would be required," Jacobs said.

TECO is evaluating options and potential costs.

According to the EPA, its new regulations will drop your electric bill by 8 percent.

Jacobs does not see that happening.

"In fact the cost to our customers is our biggest concern at this point," she said.

The EPA tried to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from shopping centers and schools. On Monday the Supreme Court shot that down.

Ashley Petefish thinks the U.S. needs to go to cleaner energy.

"Honestly, I'm willing to pay more because I think in the end it will help the environment and it will help us have a sustainable world for us to live in," Petefish said.

Howard Harris likes the idea of a cleaner environment but believes there's a limit.

"A small rise in my electric bill knowing that the environment was clear, would be fine with me," Harris said.

Harris thinks a one or two percent increase in his electric bill is acceptable.

Still to be decided is whether the Supreme Court will uphold the proposed EPA regulations.

Don't make any plans for the extra cash the EPA predicts you will enjoy.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce predicts American will pay significantly more for electricity if the new EPA standards are accepted.

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