Florida House Moves Nuclear Tax Law Fix

Guest Blog | May 1, 2013 | Press Releases

Tallahassee, Fla. (May 1, 2013) — The Florida House of Representatives today passed an amended version of the Senate’s bill that attempts to scale back the anti-consumer “early cost recovery” law passed in 2006, which allows the state’s big power companies to shift all the financial risk of building new nuclear reactors to its customers.Senate bill 1472 as passed by the House removes two provisions: a subsection in current law that explicitly allows for cost recovery if a company abandons the construction of a nuclear plant; and a previously-amended provision that would have disallowed any shareholder profit for a company that moves forward with a plant after July 1, 2013, but later abandons construction. An attempt by State Rep. Dwight Dudley to require that the nuclear tax fee be listed on customer’s monthly utility bills was rejected. Currently, utility ratepayers are unable to determine how much they are paying in advance for proposed new reactors that are unlikely to ever be built. The bill now goes back to the Senate for likely final passage. “The decision of the Florida legislature to reform advanced cost recovery underscores the concerns we have expressed about the excessive cost and risk shifted to ratepayers. Lawmakers in both the House and Senate have now recognized the flawed policy that charges consumers in advance for risky and expensive new nuclear reactors,” stated Susan Glickman, a consultant for Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “The bill as passed today by the House offers additional procedural protections for consumers beyond current law, although the devil is in the details. Its impact is highly dependent on a rigorous review by the Florida Public Service Commission. If the Commission does its job, it will find that continued spending on risky new nuclear reactors is neither feasible nor reasonable. While it’s a step in the right direction, the bill does not address the fundamental problem in the utility planning process in Florida. Power companies here want to build the most expensive power plants because that’s how they make money for their shareholders, to the detriment of ratepayers.” “We welcome the House’s action today and are hopeful that final passage in the Senate is forthcoming. Then Governor Scott must sign this bill into law to provide at least a modest level of consumer protection,” said Dr. Stephen A. Smith, executive director of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “We remain concerned, however, that the Florida Public Service Commission acts as a captured regulatory entity beholden to the big power companies. We have real concerns that the protections the Legislature envisioned with this bill may not be executed by the Commission.” The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy has challenged the constitutionality of the 2006 “early cost recovery” law before the Florida Supreme Court and a decision is pending. Read more about the challenge here. # # # Founded in 1985, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy is a nonprofit organization that promotes responsible energy choices that create global warming solutions and ensure clean, safe, and healthy communities throughout the Southeast. Learn more at www.cleanenergy.org