That anger manifested itself once again on Monday, after the state's Public Service Commission approved nearly $300 million in advance nuclear costs for Florida Power & Light Company (FP&L) and Progress Energy. The breakdown was $151 million for FP&L's plants, and $142 million for Progress Energy's plants in Crystal River and Levy County.
"I have long opposed the collection of any fees for advance nuclear cost recovery," said New Port Richey state Rep. Mike Fasano in a press release. "Today's decision to approve $142 million is yet another poke in the eye to the customers who may never see anything in return. From the botched repairs in Crystal River to the long-term problems associated with siting Levy County's reactor, the customers may ultimately be paying for something that will never materialize. Even if years pass and one or both of these plants ever come online, the amount invested will take decades to be recouped. I fear that few who are paying the advance nuclear cost recovery fee today will ever benefit from their forced contribution towards these projects."
The Public Service Commission granted all of the utilities requests on top of the more than $1 billion in cost recovery that has already been approved, leading the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy to classify the announcement as "an extremely unfortunate situation for utility customers in Florida, who are being forced to pay this "nuclear tax" up front for electricity that will very likely never be produced from proposed new reactors."
The reason that Progress and FP&L can charge ratepayers for the upfront costs of their nuclear power plants is because of the Florida Legislature's approval of such a plan back in 2006. The unpopularity of that vote grows each month, and was the signature issue that St. Petersburg Democrat Dwight Dudley used against his GOP opponent, Frank Farkas, in their race for House District 68 that Dudley won earlier this month.
The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy is challenging the constitutionality of the 2006 law before the Florida Supreme Court, where oral arguments were held last month.