400,000 and Growing

“Growth in Northwest Florida has steadily increased as more and more people have come to realize what we already know here, this is a great area to live and work,” John Hutchinson, Gulf Power spokesman, said. “This is also a positive sign for the region in terms of economic growth. It is also a challenge we face in making sure we have enough electricity and enough lines and substations in place to handle the increased demand for electricity.”

Despite the demands of growth, Gulf Power continues to rank high in customer satisfaction. For the fifth consecutive year, Gulf Power and the other Southern Company subsidiaries rated the highest in customer satisfaction in the survey of residential customers representing 29 utilities across the United States.

Southern Company also ranked second highest among all companies in the 2004 first quarter survey of 13 industries, second only to Federal Express.

Gulf Power began providing electric service in Northwest Florida in 1926 with less than 7,000 customers. It took the company 35 years to reach the 100,000 customer mark. It was another 19 more years before it hit the 200,000 customer mark in 1980, and only 12 years to hit the 300,000 plateau in 1992 and the 400,000 total in 2004.

Aiding that growth is the economic advantage Northwest Florida has in terms of electricity rates, Hutchinson said. Gulf Power has the lowest rates among all the major investor-owned utilities in Florida and some of the lowest electricity rates in the nation.