Florida’s Nuclear Cost Recovery Bailout Considered

Guest Blog | September 11, 2012 | Press Releases

Tallahassee, Fla. (September 11, 2012) — Today the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) continues with what is now the fifth round of hearings to consider Florida Power & Light (FPL) and Progress Energy Florida’s (PEF) requests for over $300 million combined in advanced cost recovery from Florida utility customers. Utility executives maintain that this advanced billing scheme, or “nuclear tax,” is necessary to move forward with construction on four proposed new nuclear reactors, despite the fact that neither utility has clearly demonstrated their intent to actually build the reactors. Since 2008, the PSC has granted these utilities over one billion dollars in cost recovery.

“Year after year the commission has unfortunately voted to enrich the big power companies at the expense of Florida’s businesses and families for risky nuclear power projects that may never even be built,” said Dr. Stephen A. Smith, executive director of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “However, we remain hopeful that the PSC will finally see the light and reject this latest request for another nuclear industry bailout and put the financial interests of the public first. Regardless, we look forward to arguing this issue before the Florida State Supreme Court in October.”

FPL has proposed two additional reactors at the Turkey Point nuclear plant near Miami with cost estimates ranging from $13 to $19 billion. PEF, which recently merged with Duke Energy, has proposed two new reactors in Levy County and cost estimates have skyrocketed to $24 billion as compared to the $14 billion estimate submitted to the PSC back in 2008 during the determination of need docket. These escalating costs will be in addition to the $1.3 billion in repair costs PEF estimates is needed to fix their broken Crystal River nuclear plant that has been offline since 2009, leading SACE and other critics to call it the ‘Humpty Dumpty’ reactor. The proposed new reactors are more than a decade from completion, if they are even built, and have experienced repeated cost increases and scheduling delays. Of particular concern is that ratepayers would not receive a refund if either utility abandons the projects.

Southern Alliance for Clean Energy is not the only party protesting this fleecing of Florida ratepayers. Numerous municipalities including the cities of North and South Miami, Pinecrest, Biscayne Park, Yankeetown, Crestview as well as the Miami-Dade League of Cities and Broward League of Cities have all passed resolutions opposing the nuclear cost recovery law.

In addition, a bipartisan group of state lawmakers are actively working to repeal this misguided legislation, including Sen. Mike Fasano (District 11-R), who originally voted for cost recovery but changed his mind after seeing the negative impacts to customers, and Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda (District 9-D), who twice introduced repeal legislation. Sen. Charles Dean, Sr. (District 3-R) and Rep. Mark Pafford (District 88-D) joined them in submitting, along with the Village of Pinecrest and AARP, “Friends of the Court” briefs supporting the legal challenge by Southern Alliance for Clean Energy to the constitutionality of the controversial pre-payment statute before the Florida Supreme Court. Oral arguments will occur before the Court on October 4, 2012. For more information, listen to streaming audio from an April 2012 press conference featuring this bipartisan group of state and local officials who oppose Florida’s advanced nuclear cost recovery law.

The latest nuclear industry bailout by Florida ratepayers, being discussed during this week’s hearings, will be voted on at a Florida PSC meeting currently scheduled for November 20, 2012. Click here for more details on the current docket. # # # 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. www.cleanenergy.org