LCEC – Lee County Electric Cooperative




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Florida Electric Rate Debate

Florida Electric Rate Debate

According to a recent report by the University of Florida’s Public Utility Research Center, Florida’s electric rates were higher in recent years than the other Southeastern states because the state’s utilities use more natural gas. LCEC has worked hard to manage the part of the bill they can control related to operation and maintenance costs and has not had a base rate increase in three years. The LCEC Board of Trustees continually monitors the financial position of the cooperative and addresses fluctuations in the cost of purchased power to ensure financial stability and has not adjusted the power cost reflected on customers’ bill in several years either.

In 2003, Florida utilities started using more natural gas, the report says. Natural gas prices steadily increased in Florida from $2.50 per million British thermal units, in 1990 to over $10 in 2008 while coal went from about $1.80 to almost $3 during that time.

Florida Power & Light, the state’s largest utility and one of LCEC’s power suppliers, is rebuilding two of its plants to run on natural gas and plans to propose converting a third one by the end of the year.

Despite the benefits, using more natural gas “comes with a cost,” Florida Public Service Commission Chairman Art Graham said in a recent statement. “Florida’s residential customers pay 10 to 20 percent more than they would in other Southeast states.”

Not all critics agree with the recent report stating that the data is not the most current and the recent drop in natural gas prices make the fuel competitive with coal and nuclear power. In fact, a Florida Power and Light spokesperson was recently quoted in the Palm Beach Post stating that the cost of burning coal has increased while natural gas prices have decreased by 70 percent since the peak in 2009.

LCEC HONORED AS AN AARP BEST EMPLOYER FOR WORKERS OVER 50

LCEC has been named by AARP to its 2011 list of Best Employers for Workers 50 and Over. To be considered, employers must submit a comprehensive application describing employee programs, practices and policies. 2011 marks the ten year history of the program designed to highlight exemplary organizations with new and innovative best practices in talent management. LCEC also received the honor in 2004 and 2009. 

“We value our employees and strive to implement best practices for employees of all ages. This includes a focus on employee engagement in order to maintain a positive workplace. LCEC has a large percentage of workers over age 50 and our benefits programs including health and wellness initiatives, retirement plans with financial planning and professional development opportunities have high value. Employees also have access to training and tuition reimbursement to broaden their skills,” said CEO Dennie Hamilton.

LCEC will be featured along with other honorees in theNovember-December issue of AARP The Magazine.  For more information about the award, visit www.aarp.org/…/lee-county-electric-aarp-best-employers.html 

Highlights of LCEC 2011 Winning Strategies:

  • Workplace Culture/Continued Opportunities: LCEC offers training for full and part-time employees who work at least 20 hours per week. Full-time employees are also eligible for tuition reimbursement and certification classes. Over the past 12 months 100 percent of employees took part in at least one development opportunity. Service anniversaries are highlighted with published announcements and an invitation to the monthly breakfast with the CEO. Employees celebrating milestone service anniversaries are recognized individually. LCEC also offers its employees professional career development through opportunities to work on team projects, take on temporary assignments in other departments, and through access to both a formal job rotation and apprenticeship programs. 
  • Benefits/Financial: Full-time employees working 40 hours per week are offered a 401(k) plan with employer match, as well as a defined-benefit plan. Employees age 50 and over can make catch-up contributions to their 401(k) plan.
  • Benefits/Health: Along with medical insurance benefits, full- and part-time employees are offered flu shots, health screenings, health risk appraisals, health club discounts, physical activity and weight-loss programs, stress management training, health fairs, mental health counseling, and education on diabetes, nutrition and fitness.
  • Benefits/Alternative Work Arrangements: Compressed work schedules and telecommuting are offered to full-time employees and flextime is offered to part-time employees working 20 or more hours per week. Full-time employees are eligible to move to part-time work on a permanent or temporary basis.
  • Opportunities for Retirees: LCEC has 146 retirees and an individual directly responsible for retiree relations. LCEC stays connected to its retirees by communicating regularly, inviting them to organization events, providing ongoing access to retirement planning workshops and information, and formally acknowledging them upon retirement. Retirees are offered work opportunities such as temporary work assignments, consulting or contract work, and full- and part-time work.
  • Age of Workforce: Fifty-one percent of LCEC employees are age 50 and over. The average tenure of those employees is 17.1 years.
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