All posts by Cory Skeates


City of Lakeland Utility Committee Approves Advisory Vote on Power Generation Replacement Plan

LAKELAND, Fla. (April 6, 2020) – The City of Lakeland’s Utility Committee unanimously approved an advisory vote today on Lakeland Electric’s plan for replacement power generation. Lakeland Electric’s coal-fired generator will be mothballed by Fall 2024 and will leave 139 megawatts (MW) of generation capacity to be filled. The utility’s plan to replace the power generation capacity includes a combination of internal combustion engines, solar power, battery storage and power purchase agreements.

The plan calls for the purchase of five natural-gas fired internal combustion engines with approximately 100 MW total capacity. The internal combustion engines have extremely fast start times and ramp rates, making the units uniquely able to meet peak demand requirements and also manage capacity fluctuation typical of solar power. Lakeland Electric plans to add 50 – 75 MW of solar with 10% of battery storage. The new solar farm is likely to be located on land owned by the City of Lakeland. The solar panels will occupy the land for the next 25 years. The remaining capacity needs will be filled by demand management, interruptible load, and power purchase agreements. With this plan, Lakeland Electric is on track to reduce its carbon footprint by 67% since 2001 and will continue to provide affordable, dependable, and sustainable power to its customers.

To complete this plan, the utility will borrow $110 million through a variety of options, including bonds and bridge loans. An estimated 3.5% base rate increase is expected by 2023, less than the rate of inflation. The utility acknowledged during the meeting that changes in credit markets might cause modifications to the plan, and the Utility Committee will be advised throughout the process.

The utility will return to the Utility Committee for approval of purchase contracts, to issue debt, or for other necessary actions. Lakeland Electric believes this plan is the best long-term strategy to modernize the power generation portfolio and prepare the utility for a better operational, environmental, and financial future.




EFFECTIVE May 1, 2020

LAKELAND, Fla. (April 7, 2020) – The Lakeland City Commission voted yesterday to lower the electric fuel charge for Lakeland Electric customers for May and June. After giving a presentation Monday, April 6, at the Utility Committee meeting, staff recommended an emergency fuel rate adjustment to provide emergency relief to customers in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The fuel charge will be lowered by $7.00 from $27.00 per 1000 kWh to $20.00 per 1000 kWh for May and June. This emergency fuel rate is expected to be restored to its normal rate in July.

The fuel charge will change to 2¢ per kilowatt-hour (kWh). Multiplying the fuel charge by 1,000 kWh, the amount an average residential home utilizes in a month, the cost equals $20.00 per 1,000 kWh for fuel.

Lakeland Electric is accelerating the under-recovery of the fuel reserve to provide emergency relief for customers. This 26% emergency fuel rate decrease is in addition to the 17.5% fuel rate decrease that began April 1. Lakeland Electric will return to the Utility Committee in June for its regularly scheduled fuel rate update. The utility expects to propose restoring the fuel rate to approximately the April fuel rate for the next quarter (July/August/September.) The April fuel rate of $27.00 per 1000 kWh was Lakeland Electric’s lowest fuel rate in 19 years.


As with most electric utilities that generate their own power, the cost of fuel is passed directly to customers. This makes the fuel charge an important part of Lakeland Electric’s ongoing effort to keep our customer’s electric costs low.


Residential Rates Based on 1,000 kWh Current Rates – Effective May 2020
Base Charge* (see below for a breakdown of charges) $64.77 $64.77
Fuel Charge              $27.00 $20.00
TOTAL: $91.77 $84.77
 *Base Charge
Customer Charge $  11.00/month
Energy & Smart Grid Charges $50.99/1000 kWh
Environmental Charge $  2.78/1000 kWh




SPCA Florida Receives $30,000 Petco Foundation Lifesaving Grant

Lakeland, FL — SPCA Florida received a $30,000 grant from the Petco Foundation for kennel doors. The Petco Foundation has been a community supporter of SPCA Florida, providing funding and community collaboration opportunities for many years.

The Petco Foundation investment will help purchase BiteGuard pet doors for the kennels to improve the quality of canine life.  Large dogs will be able to move freely between the inside and outside portion of their kennels without releasing cool air from the inside, out.  The ability to go in and out as the dogs please alleviates stress, helps them interact with adopters, and minimizes the spread of airborne diseases.  An inviting environment will be welcomed by potential adopters, but as well for staff and volunteers.

“This was a huge win for our large dog population,” said Shelley Thayer, Executive Director of SPCA Florida. “The addition of a simple door will benefit our dogs’ mental and physical well-being during their stay with us. We are grateful to the Petco Foundation for enriching their lives.”

For more information about SPCA Florida, visit For more on the Petco Foundation, visit and join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram by using the hashtag #PetcoFamily.



About SPCA Florida

Founded in 1979, SPCA Florida is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization headquartered in Lakeland, serving all of Polk County and the surrounding communities. Dedicated to improving the lives of pets and people, SPCA Florida provides caring, compassion and hope to more than 4,300 homeless animals entering our doors each year.

Open to the public, our Reva McClurg Animal Medical Center is a state-of-the-art veterinary facility that heals and helps 50,000 patients annually. Thousands more pets and people are served through our community outreach and education programs.

Simplistically, every $100 donated to SPCA Florida, or essentially the cost of an average adoption, equates to $3,000 worth of positive economic impact throughout Polk County, Central Florida, and the state.  Additionally, we are proud of the fact that 92% of every dollar goes to program resources and helping homeless animals.

 About the Petco Foundation

At the Petco Foundation, we believe that every animal deserves to live its best life. Since 1999, we’ve invested more than $260 million in lifesaving animal welfare work to make that happen. With our more than 4,000 animal welfare partners, we inspire and empower communities to make a difference by investing in adoption and medical care programs, spay and neuter services, pet cancer research, service and therapy animals, and numerous other lifesaving initiatives. Through our Think Adoption First program, we partner with Petco stores and animal welfare organizations across the country to increase pet adoptions. So far, we’ve helped more than 6.5 million pets find their new loving families, and we’re just getting started. Visit to learn more about how you can get involved.


Lake Wales Chrysler Dodge Jeep RAM receives 2020 CarGurus Top Rated Dealer Award for Excellence in Customer Experience

Tony Reeves with Award


Lake Wales Chrysler Dodge Jeep RAM today announced that it has received the honor of being named a 2020 CarGurus Top Rated Dealer. The CarGurus Top Rated Dealer awards are given to car dealerships that have received the highest average review ratings from shoppers who have submitted dealership reviews on the CarGurus platform. CarGurus uses verified dealership ratings along with other factors like pricing analytics to help shoppers search for a great deal on a vehicle.

“We are thrilled to recognize Lake Wales Chrysler Dodge Jeep RAM as a 2020 Top Rated Dealer,” Ashley Karr, Vice President of B2B Marketing at CarGurus. “Customer reviews are at the core of CarGurus’ transparent shopping experience and is a part of why shoppers have come to trust us. The Top-Rated Dealer program gives dealerships like Lake Wales Chrysler Dodge Jeep RAM the opportunity to showcase their customer service excellence, and we applaud their high standards.”

“Lake Wales Chrysler Dodge Jeep RAM is honored to be named a CarGurus Top Rated Dealer in 2020, this award is an unbiased testament to the outstanding service that our customers experience,” said Tony Reeves, general manager of the dealership. In the years to come, we will continue to provide our customers with the same level of excellence that earned us this industry accolade.”

CarGurus invites shoppers to review and rate dealerships with whom they have interacted during their car shopping experience on the CarGurus platform. Dealer ratings and reviews are visible to the public on the site, and they are also factored in the algorithm that CarGurus uses to rank search results for shoppers.

About CarGurus

Founded in 2006, CarGurus (Nasdaq: CARG) is a global, online automotive marketplace connecting buyers and sellers of new and used cars. The Company uses proprietary technology, search algorithms and data analytics to bring trust and transparency to the automotive search experience and help users find great deals from top-rated dealers. CarGurus is the most visited automotive shopping site in the U.S. To learn more about CarGurus, visit

About the Mahalak Auto Group (MAG): Ralph Mahalak Sr. opened his auto dealership in Monroe, Michigan in 1966. He was dedicated to providing reliable products and services to his community. In 1991, he handed over his business skills and motivation to his four sons, Ralph Jr, Mike, JP, and Alex. Now, the four brothers run six different family owned and operated dealerships committed to their communities. Four of which are in Florida; Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep, Ram of Winter Haven, Alfa Romeo Fiat of Winter Haven, Posner Park Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, Fiat in Davenport. In 2013, MAG purchased the Sorenson Schade Chrysler dealership in Lake Wales and re-named it Lake Wales Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, RAM. In Monroe MI, the Monroe Superstore sells Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep and RAM. The Buckeye Superstore in Shelby OH, sells Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep, RAM and Fiat.

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