TEST — TEST — Press Release: FL PSC Approves Nuclear Tax

George Cavros | October 26, 2010 | Press Releases


Florida Public Service Commission Approves Nuclear Tax at Expense of Florida Families and Businesses:
Commission approves pre-payment scheme for proposed nuclear reactors in spite of massive cost increases and significant delaysTallahassee, Fla.

(October 26, 2010) – Although Progress Energy of Florida testified that in just one year their proposal to build two new nuclear reactors in Levy County has seen a $5 billion cost increase, resulting in a $22 billion estimated price tag, as well as a 5-year delay in projected operation, the Florida Public Service Commission voted 4-0 today approving the nearly $164 million request to charge customers in advance for the new reactors and additional nuclear generation. The PSC also failed to protect Florida Power & Light (“FPL”) ratepayers in September by approving a controversial stipulation that Southern Alliance for Clean Energy opposed. The stipulation allows FPL to charge $31 million to customers, in part for the proposed reactors at the existing Turkey Point facility near Miami, but deferred any actual review of those costs until the 2011 docket.

“Last year our experts testified there would be cost overruns and scheduling delays. And that proved true within just one year’s time enabling them to deliver ‘We told you so testimony’ this year. It’s unbelievable that given the facts presented the Commission failed once again to protect Progress and FPL customers – we are beyond disappointed, we are outraged,” said Dr. Stephen Smith, executive director with Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “How can the PSC justify again rewarding Progress and FPL for literally having billions of dollars in cost overruns and in Progress’ case a five year delay while Florida businesses and families are stuck footing the bill? The public lacks any protections—essentially a blank check has once again been offered on a silver platter to the big power companies.”

According to information filed by Progress during the required annual review of its Levy County nuclear reactor project, the project has experienced a $5 billion increase and a five-year delay. As reported by Progress, the average Progress customer will see monthly cost increases of nearly $8 per month in 2013, escalating to $50 per month by 2020. The nuclear prepayment scheme, officially referred to as the Nuclear Cost Recovery Clause, is the result of an anti-consumer provision passed by the Florida legislature in 2006.

“The proposed Florida reactor delivery dates have been pushed back by half a decade and FPL has not yet decided whether to go through with the project. Unfortunately, the PSC today allowed the utilities to continue charging ratepayers for costs for these reactors that may never be built, just so the big power companies can continue to pursue their license applications to keep their place in line at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission,” said Mark Cooper, senior fellow for economic analysis at the Institute for Energy and the Environment at Vermont Law School, and expert witness for Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “This just puts Florida utility consumers in the position of paying for FPL and Progress to hold their place in a line that is most likely going to end up going nowhere.”

The Toshiba-Westinghouse AP1000 reactor design proposed by Progress and FPL has still not been approved by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the federal agency in charge of licensing new reactors. More than a year ago, the NRC informed Westinghouse that the AP1000 design failed to meet key safety issues that would protect the reactor’s containment during severe weather and other events.

“Given the design problems with the reactors alone, the least-cost option would be the immediate cancellation of these reactors, rather than bleeding Florida consumers for what may end up being nothing more than the nuclear equivalent of white elephants,” said Mr. Arnie Gundersen, a nuclear engineer and energy adviser at Fairewinds Associates, Inc., who served as one of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy’s experts in both the 2009 and 2010 dockets.

The FL PSC is scheduled to issue the final order on November 15, 2010.

View all information related to this FL PSC docket here.

For additional information on Southern Alliance for Clean Energy’s efforts to challenge new nuclear reactors in Florida, click here. # # # 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.

For more information, go to: www.cleanenergy.org