Hadid Alrayes and his father, Ziyad, are the co-owners of Ice Sssscreamin off of Cape Coral Parkway in Southeast Cape Coral. Alrayes says he’s used to the expensive costs of running an ice cream shop in the middle of Southwest Florida’s brutal summer, but he wasn’t anticipating LCEC to bill him $2,425 for his electricity this year.
“For an owner, every penny is like a fortune,” explains Alrayes. “It’s very frightening.”
Now, Alrayes says they’re having to make big cutbacks just to stay afloat – from turning up the A/C temperature indoors, to even cutting down on the number of ice cream flavors that are available.
“Sometimes we have to shut down our freezers for our toppings. It’s been pretty difficult,” he says. “It should be generally costly, but not that costly.”
LCEC’s Board of Trustees previously voted in June to raise their rates, which went into effect this month.
The company told Fox 4 that the increases are due to major increases in the price of natural gas.
“The majority of the power is generated from natural gas. So when the natural gas prices go up, the cost of electricity also increases,” says Karen Ryan, a spokesperson for LCEC.
But for small business owners like Alrayes, those increases could end up melting away his livelihood.
“I can’t say what the future holds, but I don’t know if we’ll be able to stay up and running if the bill stays that high,” says Alrayes.
The City of Cape Coral tells Fox 4 that they approved a 30-year franchise agreement with LCEC back in 2018, and that the city has no control over the cost of the Cooperative’s rates.