Florida’s Nuclear Power “Tax” Challenged

Guest Blog | January 20, 2012 | Press Releases

Jacksonville, Fla. (January 20, 2012) — The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) filed an appeal on December 21, 2011 with the Florida Supreme Court challenging the Florida Public Service Commission’s (PSC) Final Order in the 2011 Nuclear Cost Recovery docket. Issued in November of 2011, that docket approved a combined $282 million in cost recovery for Progress Energy Florida (PEF) and Florida Power & Light (FPL). The appeal also challenges the constitutionality of Florida’s early cost recovery statute, Fla. Stat. 366.93.

Florida’s PSC has approved more than a billion dollars in advanced cost recovery over the past three years for questionable new nuclear reactors proposed by PEF and FPL, despite the fact that neither utility has demonstrated the intent to actually build the reactors. In fact, both utilities admit that no final decision to build has been made.

“It is sad that the PSC appears willing to let the power companies unfairly tax Florida families and businesses on an increasingly weak assumption they will build new nuclear reactors sometime next decade,” said Dr. Stephen A. Smith, executive director of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “While this is a great deal for Progress Energy and FPL’s shareholders and executives, it is horrible for Florida consumers and businesses. We believe that this law gives entirely too much discretion to the PSC, which has been arbitrarily approving everything the utilities have asked for each year. Therefore, we are asking the Florida State Supreme Court to protect consumers against this nuclear power tax scam by declaring the law unconstitutional.”

PEF has proposed two new reactors in Levy County, Florida with an estimated cost of $22.5 billion and FPL has proposed two additional reactors at their existing Turkey Point nuclear plant near Miami with an estimated cost approaching $20 billion. Both proposals are more than a decade from completion, if they are ever built, and have experienced repeated cost increases and scheduling delays. Ratepayers would not receive a refund if either utility abandons the projects.

SACE will hold a teleconference on Monday, January 23, 2012 at 12 p.m. EST to discuss the appeal. Village of Pinecrest Mayor Cindy Lerner will participate in the teleconference and discuss the backlash occurring against PEF and FPL regarding their nuclear pre-payment scheme. Multiple municipalities in Florida, including Pinecrest and the Miami-Dade League of Cities, among others, have passed resolutions opposing nuclear cost recovery.

“It is not fair to require the Village of Pinecrest, which is only fifteen miles from Turkey Point, or Florida residents to pay for such a costly, high risk energy source that may never produce electricity,” said Mayor Cindy Lerner. “There are lower-risk and less expensive alternatives available, such as energy efficiency, and we need to focus on those approaches as we look to the future.”

Republican State Senator Mike Fasano (District 11-R) has also come out against nuclear cost recovery, even though he voted in favor of the legislation in 2006. He has sponsored SB 740, which repeals advanced cost recovery for nuclear power plants during the construction and planning phase. Demonstrating bi-partisan support for a repeal, State Representative Michelle Rehwinkel-Vasilinda (District 9-D) introduced a companion bill, HB 4031. What: Media teleconference with Stephen Smith, executive director of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy; Village of Pinecrest Mayor Cindy Lerner; Sara Barczak, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy; Susan Glickman, consultant; and George Cavros, attorney and consultant. When: Monday, January 23, 2012 at 12 p.m. EST How: To participate in this teleconference, call 1-888-346-3659. The passcode for the call is 465859, please announce yourself after you are connected. # # # 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.