Southern Alliance for Clean Energy Looking to Fight Off Rising Nuclear Power Costs for FPL Customers | The Daily Pulp | South Florida | Broward Palm Beach New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Broward-Palm Beach, Florida


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

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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Chris Joseph
Contact: Chris Joseph

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