What's worse than Progress Energy, TECO rate hikes?

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Answer: Knowing that while the power companies are raping your wallet, they're also clogging your lungs.

An interesting piece in today's St. Petersburg Times finds the answer behind why South Floridians will see no increased power bills this holiday season (in fact, they get a break!) and Tampa Bay will see bills inflated by 12-25 percent:

So how can the price of fuel in South Florida fall while it rises in the Tampa Bay area?

In a word: coal. Progress Energy generates nearly 40 percent of its electricity from coal, and Tampa Electric more than half.

"Natural gas prices have fallen sharply and are lower than they were a year ago," said Progress Energy spokeswoman Suzanne Grant. "But we run 40 percent on coal. While coal prices are down, they are more than 100 percent above where they were a year ago."

Which makes this Reason No. 895 on why Florida (and the rest of the country) needs to abandon coal-fired power plants. In short, coal-fired power plants hurt the environment and ratepayers. According to one nonprofit's report, TECO's Big Bend power plant is the 45th worst in the country; Progress Energy's Crystal River plant ranks 21st worst.

All of this news isn't going over too well with some St. Petersburg residents (and Progress Energy customers) who plan to take to the streets over these rate hikes. One perturbed payee, Allan Greene, will be picketing outside Progress Energy's headquarters all this week. He's giving out this leaflet. He's looking for people to join him.

In the meantime, here's a link one source gave me for 5 things you can do (besides protesting).

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