A group of residents in Bradenton, Florida, recently gathered in opposition to a decision made by the state's largest electricity provider to raise electricity rates for some 4.6 million customers, the Bradenton Herald reports.

According to the media outlet, Florida Power and Light Co. is in the final stretch of its proposal to raise electricity rates by $690.4 million, which will go before the Florida Public Service Commission in August. The utility says the rate hike is due to inflation, the company's 100,000 new customers and a new energy generation plant that is to be built in Cape Canaveral.

However, opponents of the hike say it could have a serious effect on residents during an already-fragile period for Florida's economy. The request also comes soon after a 2009 rate settlement that will end in December.

"Low bills and reliability are the two things our customers care about," Silagy said. "We know it, and they will tell you it. But that [2009 settlement] was a kick-the-can-down-the-road approach, and now we're down the road."

Although Florida's gas market has been deregulated, authorities are still working to introduce electricity deregulation, which would create stiff competition, and in turn keep electricity rates down.