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Energy advocates blast PSC ruling on nuke power as lacking oversight

Here's the release from the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, a nonprofit that promotes renewable energy, blasted the decision by state utility regulators to grant the rate increase request sought by FPL and Progress Energy to pay for speculative nuclear projects:

For the third consecutive year, the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) has approved Progress Energy of Florida (PEF) and Florida Power and Light’s (FPL) requests for hundreds of millions of dollars in advanced cost recovery for questionable new nuclear projects, despite the fact that neither utility has clearly demonstrated an intent to actually build the reactors. The commission’s unanimous vote today to approve a combined $282 million in cost recovery brings the total amount charged to customers in advance to more than $1 billion.
“It is a sad day for Florida ratepayers’ wallets when the Public Service Commission keeps approving millions of dollars for Progress Energy and FPL on nuclear projects that will likely never be built. It’s like free money for the utilities – talk up a project, sell the idea to the Legislature and PSC, delay it multiple times, and keep vacuuming up ratepayers' hard earned dollars,” said Dr. Stephen A. Smith, executive director of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

“Yet, year after the year the commission votes to protect the utilities at the expense of Florida’s businesses and families. It’s hard to believe that the Florida Legislature ever intended for the PSC to rule with blinders on. Where is the oversight?”
PEF has proposed two new reactors in Levy County, Florida and FPL has proposed two additional reactors at the Turkey Point nuclear plant near Miami. Both proposals are more than a decade from completion, if they are built, and have experienced repeated cost increases and scheduling delays. Ratepayers would not receive a refund if either utility abandons the projects.
“The commission’s interpretation today of its own intent to build standard, which was adopted to protect Florida ratepayers, sends a clear signal that FPL and PEF can continue to spend hundreds of millions of their ratepayers’ money on proposed new nuclear reactors without any commitment whatsoever to actually construct them,” said attorney Jamie Whitlock with Gary A. Davis & Associates, Inc., who represented the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy during the PSC proceedings. “Once again, we believe the commission has violated its statutory duty to fix fair, just and reasonable rates for Florida ratepayers.”
The Florida PSC is scheduled to issue the final order on nuclear cost recovery for PEF and FPL on November 8, 2011.
For more information, view SACE’s recent press release and listen to streaming audio of last week’s press conference with South Miami Mayor Phillip Stoddard and Village of Pinecrest Mayor Cindy Lerner. Both of those municipalities have passed resolutions opposing advanced nuclear cost recovery.