Welcome to the City of Lake Worth where your utility costs will be 50% higher or more for the next 10 years, minimum. Today, departing Lake Worth Mayor Rene Varela (Palm Beach Post Article) urged the city to begin weaning itself off of power plant revenues which make up a 30-50% portion of the City’s general fund.
Lake Worth residents have been scorched by rising power bills for the last few years as the City revenues continued to decline. Residents have turned to removing grass from their yards and replace them with less thirsty plants in order to stave off the huge water bills on city water, hundreds of dollars in electricity if they are on a well and the cost of doing nothing, a fine from the city for having a brown grass.
The City has introduced a few opportunities for residents to save money including a solar energy rebate for the installation of solar water heaters. Other rebates include upgraded insulation, programmable thermostats and low water flow toilets.
The City has also set up a grant fund to help low income residents, make energy efficiency improvements to their home. This premise of the program is great considering low income families will be hit the hardest as fuel and electricity costs rise, however there may be a very long waiting list. The underfunded utility is backed up 2-4 weeks to have a utility inspector come perform your energy audit before you can meet with contractors and select your desired upgrades. The one thing the utility or city does not do under their rebate programs is vet contractors. Some believe this leaves residents open to unscrupulous contractors.
The question to consider is, with so many residents lowering their power consumption won’t this also lower the franchise fees that the city so eagerly depends on? Fortunately those who make the improvements probably won’t have to worry about their bills going up considering most franchise fees are based on your consumption but if the City cannot kick it’s franchise fee addiction and out of control spending may Lake Worth residents may see their power bills going up.
Lastly, who ever heard of the cost of energy going down over time. The City may choose to not eat such a huge slice of the utility pie over time, however the cost of generating electricity, historically speaking, is most likely going to increase.