Florida Citizens Organizing to Repeal Advanced Nuclear Cost Recovery
  • Florida consumers still on the hook for nuclear tax

    Posted on May 16th, 2013 Florida Citizens No comments

    Screen shot 2013-05-15 at 2.36.48 PMNow that Senate Bill 1472 has passed through the Florida legislature, it’s up to Governor Scott to make sure it becomes law. Considering he will be seeking reelection, the expectation is that he won’t veto the bill. The legislation seems like a step in the right direction, but still relies heavily on the dysfunctional Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) to serve the interests of the public, not just the interests of the big power companies. Unfortunately an amendment that would’ve added a line item on consumers’ electric bills to keep them informed on how much they were paying for these troubled projects was rejected almost unanimously by House Republicans.

    Meanwhile, Duke Energy has suspended its proposed nuclear expansion at it’s Shearon Harris plant in North Carolina and several other projects are in trouble. The “nuclear renaissance” is flailing, yet Floridians are still paying. In fact, Duke Energy just submitted its most recent request for $174.6 million in nuclear cost recovery funds for next year, which would add $5.62 to the average consumers’ bill, up from $4.73 this year. This news came on the heels of the Florida Supreme Court decision against plaintiffs challenging the constitutionality of the law. The Florida Supreme Court says it is the Legislature’s business, yet the Legislature is leaving it up to the PSC, which, by all evidence, is beholden to the utilities. In the end, it’s Florida’s families, seniors and businesses that are at the greatest risk from these faulty policies.

    A recent Tampa Bay Times article studies the cost of Duke Energy’s proposed Levy county reactors in comparison to a natural gas plant. The conclusion? The nuclear reactors would cost $1.3 – 3.8 billion more to build, operate and fuel than an equivalent natural gas plant, but Duke Energy stands to make ten times more on the Levy nuclear project. So, not only does it cost more to build and operate the nuclear reactors, but Duke will make and extra $3.6 billion. Seems like a no-brainer from their profit-driven business model perspective. Especially when you toss in the rate increases they enjoy from Florida’s “nuclear tax” – it’s an apparent win-win situation for Duke!

    While this blog has focused on the specifics as they relate to Duke Energy, Florida Power and Light (FPL) is up to the same tricks. They are asking for $28 million this year, which will equal about an additional 30 cents on the average monthly bill. This has gone down since last year, since FPL has completed their uprate projects at St. Lucie and Turkey Point. At least FPL has delivered something for the money they have collected. Despite that, it might be time for consumers to start contacting their electric utility to express their frustrations. It is important they know their customers are not happy with being conscripted into shareholder responsibilities, with no real guarantees or benefits other than two possible nuclear reactors a decade or more into the distance, if they are ever even completed.

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