Ocala residents say city-owned utility company overcharges

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MARION COUNTY, Fla. - In Marion County, some Ocala residents are up in arms over their electric bills.

They complain the rates of the city-owned utility are too high and said there's no excuse for it.

There was a time when Ocala's city-owned utility was known for some of the area's highest rates. The city said times have changed.

"I said I don't buy it," Mike Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez and his neighbors get their power from Ocala Utility Services, OUS for short.

They've compared electric bills with friends who are with Duke Energy. They didn't like what they saw.

"Basically the same size house but about half of what I'm paying," Gonzales said.

To add fuel to the fire, city residents were on the receiving end of a mass mailing from a company offering to save them 40 percent on their monthly power bills. Whether it works or not it has folks pointing fingers.

City leaders said in a comparison with several electric providers in the region OUS is near the bottom when it comes to rates.

"In a state ranking we're in the bottom third as well," Jeannine Robbins with city of Ocala said.

City leaders said big businesses have noticed and recently decided to locate here. FedEx Express is one of them.

"And I don t think they would do that if our rates were ridiculously high," Robbins said.

Gonzalez is not convinced and said OUS customers need to get organized.

"Otherwise, it's just gonna be business as usual. I can assure you, I'm not the lone ranger on this," Gonzalez said.

Residents said they might take their complaints to the Ocala City Council.