SACE | Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
Florida Public Service Commission Fails to Protect Consumers, Approves FPL’s Nuclear Tax Request
FPL customers to again foot pre-payment scheme for proposed Turkey Point nuclear reactors in spite of escalating costs, significant delays and lack of utility’s intent to build
CONTACT: Jennifer Rennicks, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, 865.235.1448
Tallahassee, Fla. (October 19, 2015) ///PRESS RELEASE/// Today the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) approved Florida Power & Light’s (FPL) request to charge their customers $34 million in advance for Florida’s “nuclear tax,” or nuclear cost recovery. With this approval, since 2008 the PSC has granted FPL more than $280 million in early cost recovery for costs associated with two proposed reactors at the existing Turkey Point nuclear plant near Miami, despite any commitment from the utility to actually build the reactors. The Commission ignored many serious concerns, including the economic feasibility of the reactors raised by the intervening parties: the City of Miami, large industrial and commercial customers, the Office of Public Counsel and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE).
“Despite overwhelming arguments to the contrary, the Commission again gave FPL what they want at the expense of Florida’s businesses and families for increasingly speculative nuclear reactors that will likely never be built,” said Dr. Stephen A. Smith, executive director of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “Once again the financial interests of the public took a backseat to a big power company’s excessive speculation favoring utility shareholders. While FPL spends hundreds of thousands of dollars crowing about the lack of consumer protections for a proposed solar ballot initiative, they and their political friends are silent about the lack of consumer protections in this nuclear power fleecing. The inevitable move to diversifying Florida’s energy mix with clean, easy to build solar power and energy efficiency was delayed but we remain steadfast that this important, necessary shift will happen.”
During the proceeding, FPL conceded that its cost estimates had not taken into consideration significant cost overruns of four billion dollars at the Toshiba-Westinghouse AP1000 reactors under construction at Southern Company’s Plant Vogtle in Georgia. FPL is proposing the same reactor design for Turkey Point. (SCANA’s AP1000 expansion at the V.C. Summer plant in South Carolina also has cost overruns and significant construction delays.) Additionally, FPL put forth an unrealistic non-binding cost estimate of up to 20 billion dollars. FPL’s proposed reactors are more than a decade from completion, currently projected for 2027/2028, if they are even built, and have experienced repeated cost increases and scheduling delays.
SACE’s final brief mentioned that the net cumulative fuel savings benefits of the project, extolled by FPL as the prime benefit for customers, may not be realized by customers, in today’s dollars, until 60 years from today. A 45-year old customer today will not realize a net economic benefit, in today’s dollars, until that customer reached 105 years old. A significant percentage of customers in the counties that FPL serves will move away or pass away or their business will close before realizing any cumulative fuel savings benefit from the project, if at all – forcing customers to pay today for an alleged benefit that they will likely never receive in their lifetime. In the case of Palm Beach County, almost 50% of the customers are 45 year of age or older.
“The proposed Turkey Point expansion represents a huge generational inequity,” said Sara Barczak, High Risk Energy Choices Program Director with SACE. “This project is not economically feasible nor economically beneficial for FPL’s customers of today and even decades from now. But the Commission continues to ignore this reality and reward the utility for making risky decisions that will hurt customers far more than benefit them. It’s clear that the changes made by the state legislature to the controversial cost recovery statute have not reined in the Commission or FPL.”
SACE has argued that Florida has far better energy choices. Energy efficiency not only can help customers save money on their electric bills by reducing their energy use, but it is also the lowest cost resource in meeting electricity demand at an investment of less than 3 cents per kWh. This is a fraction of the levelized cost of the proposed Turkey Point reactors, which is almost 17 cents per kWh. Incredibly, FPL has never allowed energy efficiency to go head-to-head with the proposed reactors in its resource planning process.
Elected officials in South Florida also engaged in the 2015 nuclear cost recovery proceedings. State Representative José Javier Rodríguez, who spoke at the August hearing before the PSC, Mayor Tomas Regalado of the City of Miami, Mayor Cindy Lerner of the City of Pinecrest, and Mayor Phillip Stoddard of the City of South Miami have all raised concerns about the Turkey Point expansion and requested the PSC to hold hearings in Miami given the impacts specifically to that area. The Commission denied their request.
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Founded in 1985, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy promotes responsible energy choices that work to address the impacts of global climate change and ensure clean, safe, and healthy communities throughout the Southeast. Learn more at www.cleanenergy.org.