Investigators: FPL gave regulators incorrect information
Florida Power & Light gave state regulators inaccurate and out-of-date cost information when it was seeking approval to charge customers to build its proposed nuclear power projects, according to an internal investigation hired by the company in the wake of a whistleblower's complaint.
Concentric Energy Advisors of Marlborough, Mass., was hired by FPL earlier this year to look into an employee complaint about the issue. Regulators approved charging customers $63 million this year for planning the proposed nuclear projects. Utility critics say the PSC may have approved charging customers more than it should have had it received more accurate information. Read Julie Patel's story on that here.
Meanwhile, FPL and Progress Energy returned to the PSC Tuesday to revise their request to construct and expand their nuclear power plants in South Florida and Levy County. Progress is slowing down progress on the project, said Suzanne Grant, Progress Energy spokeswoman, and in light of the economy wants to reduce the amount of money it takes from customers -- from $6.99 for every 1,000 kwh of energy to $5.53 per 1,000 and kwh and $4.99 for 2011.
The legislature allowed the companies to charge customers millions in nuclear energy development costs and the companies say this new round of rate increases is needed because of expanding costs and complications of nuclear power.
But clean energy advocates warn that the prospects of building new nuclear plants are slim, given fast-rising reactor costs, project delays, unresolved reactor design problems, falling natural gas prices and reduced demand due to the recession and increased energy efficiency. Before the economic downturn, the legislature allowed the companies to to take hundreds of millions from electricity customers so they would start the lengthy process of planning for the nuclear plants but also allowed them to collect the money even if the reactors never generate a single kilowatt of power.