Southern Alliance for Clean Energy Looking to Fight Off Rising Nuclear Power Costs for FPL Customers

Categories: Politics
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In 2006, the undaunted geniuses in the Florida Legislature came up with the Florida Renewable Technology and Energy Efficiency Act, a shady law that basically gives utility companies like FPL and Progress Energy Florida permission to charge customers for something that might be built or fixed, without even having to reimburse the customer if they decide, meh, that nuclear power plant doesn't need to be built or fixed after all... Ah well! But hey, thanks for the extra two bucks on that electric bill, yo!

The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy filed a Florida Supreme Court challenge to the law, saying that the statute is a tad too fuzzy and vague and gives utility companies too much free reign to go building (or not building) nuclear reactors willy-nilly at customers' expense.

Meanwhile, FPL is now asking for $151.4 million to upgrade nuclear plants in St. Lucie as well as the plant in Turkey Point. This would basically mean the average FPL customer would have to fork over another $1.69 on their monthly bill, according to the Public Service Commission.

PEF customers might get screwed a little harder, with the company requesting $151.6 million for an upgrade at its Crystal River nuclear plant as well as a new plant in Levy County, which would add nearly $5 per monthly bill.

The Florida Public Service Commission held a hearing on Wednesday to determine if customers should be footing the bill for unbuilt, unfixed nuclear power plant projects.

The commission held off PEF on getting their grubby mitts on $9 million in repairs for the Crystal River plant, which has been just a giant stone thing sitting there doing nothing since 2009. PEF hasn't even decided if it wants to rebuild the plant or just shut it down completely, yet there it is, asking for 9 mil like it's loose change in Florida's cup holder.

On July 10, the Office of Public Counsel called in consultant William R. Jacobs to testify that the Turkey Point plant upgrade costs have ballooned to more than half a billion dollars in the past 14 months. Jacobs also said that costs have been hidden because they are mixed in with other projects. 

Think of it like a giant Reece's peanut butter cup made of your money. Feel better now?

"It is now clear that the Turkey Point EPU project is on a runaway course of its own, the extent of which is being buried by FPL's composite approach," Jacobs said.

FPL spokesman Richard Gibbs said on Wednesday that the plant on Turkey Point will save customers $3.8 billion that would have been spent on fossil fuel over the lifetime of the project.

Meanwhile, State Sen. Mike Fasano (R-New Port Richey), who was one of the original voters for the 2006 bill, has since seen the light and is now one of its harshest critics, calling the whole thing "blatant legalized robbery."

Opening arguments were delayed until Monday, when the hearing resumes.

Until then, you may want to hold off on buying your kids those $12 shoes they need. We hear folded-up cardboard patches up old sneaker holes really well.

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As a rate payer I share those concerns.  I happen to know, however, as a nuclear engineer, that the facts in this one are wrong.  These nuclear plants are the best thing Florida has going for it in the energy world.  The current hearings at the public service commission are simply to reimburse funds already spent by the utility company.  I checked and most of it (87%) is for expansion of existing plants.  The expansions produce about as much electricity as a medium-sized plant without having to build a new one.  The nuclear plants have no emissions and reduce annual fossil fuel usage by same amount as 6,000,000 barrels of oil and are equivalent to removing almost 200,000 cares from the road due to no emissions.  The cost of the upgrades is less than the amount of money we save as ratepayers in fossil fuel that we'd have to pay for if it weren't for the nuclear plants.  (The upgrades to the existing plants save almost $4 billion in avoided fossil fuel purchase costs.)  I hope FPL also builds the proposed new nuclear plants too because they save us ratepayers about $58 billion over their lifetime which is far less than the cost of the plants.  As to the legislation, I checked that out too.  It's not a money grab.  I allowed the costs to be reimbursed as they are expended so we ratepayers don'f have to pay the cost of interest for financing over many years. Saves us about $2 billion that we ratepayers would have to pay.  I like this.  Debt wastes my money.  JP


Considering just how high my FPL bill is now, they should already have all the cash they need.  And I know my neighbors are paying just as much as I am. 

Why must Florida legislature keep allowing these damned cash grabs?

I think its time to look into putting solar panels on my roof.


 @jpaul123 It would just be easier, and probably ease the burden on these plants and the grid, if they just started installing solar panels everywhere.  Come on, we live in FLORIDA!!!  Its the Sunshine State!  Even on most rainy days, the sun STILL comes out. 

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