NEW: Lake Worth says at last it has electric rate parity with FPL

1:48 p.m Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018 Local
Lake Worth Mayor Pam Triolo, standing in front of commissioners, speaks on bill parity at Tuesday s press conference. (Kevin D. Thompson/The Palm Beach Post)

For years, Lake Worth residents have been complaining about the high rates of their electric utility, with the city’s rates being 25 percent higher than those charged by Florida Power & Light Co.

That’s starting to change as the city’s electric utility has finally achieved rate parity with FPL.

“Your electric bill should not be a reason to consider leaving,” Mayor Pam Triolo said Tuesday at City Hall. “We not only matched FPL’s bill we did even better. If you took a bill from an average resident customer and put it beside an FPL bill, we are now 18 cents less.”

Triolo recalled how the high rates, coupled with reliability issues — especially during storms — created a serious disincentive for investors.

In February 2013, city commissioners passed an ordinance that required the city to have parity with FPL’s rates within five years.

“We have a unanimous commission support to keep electric rates as low as possible,” Triolo said.

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The city also showed a four-minute video in which city commissioners, workers and residents spoke about rate parity.

After the press briefing, Ed Liberty, electric utility director, told The Palm Beach Post the biggest step in achieving parity was renegotiating the city’s power contract in 2014 with the Orlando Utilities Commission.

“That allowed us to bring costs down,” Liberty said. “We were able to reduce costs from the prior years.”

He also said the city held off on filling positions. “We’ve had some attrition and taken advantage of that as well,” he added.

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Lake Worth also did a better job of understanding what their competitors were doing.

Lake Worth is Palm Beach County’s only city with its own power plant. It has 27,000 customers, which includes 7,200 in Palm Springs and unincorporated Palm Beach County.

Triolo said Lake Worth is also working to be a leader in clean energy. Last year, the city opened a 2 megawatt solar energy field on what once was a dusty landfill off Washington Avenue.

She said the city is currently negotiating for an additional 10 megawatt share of an array that will be built in another part of the state.

The city, Triolo added, is also working with the Southeastern National Marine Renewable Energy Center and Florida Atlantic University for ocean current energy, which involved harnessing the power of the Gulfstream current to produce electricity.

“We’re on our way to becoming a global leader and birthplace for this incredible type of technology,” Triolo said.