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Fasano asks Gardiner for some face time with Progress on its nuke mess

Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, hasn't gotten had much success asking privately to bring Progress Energy before the Senate Communications, Energy and Public Utilities Committee, so he decided to ask publicly at a very short meeting of the committee on Monday.

Fasano said it's time the power company come before lawmakers "so we could ask them what’s going on." The company continues to seek cost recovery for a new nuclear power plant in Levy County that has yet to be built at the same time its botched repair of its existing Crystal River plant may cost its customers a shocking $2 billion.

"The amount of dollars to be borne by ratepayers is a lot more than what we thought years ago," Fasano said. "I would ask for you to ask Progress Energy to come before us." He said he wants answers on when the new nuclear plant is going to be built, what will the total cost be and why did the company decided to fix the Crystal River reactor crack themselves when they were warned not to go forward.

"I'm not here to embarrass anyone,'' said Fasano, employing his characteristic skill at seeking headlines. "I'm just representing my constituents. We're not talking about a few dollars. We're talking about billions of dollars from the ratepayers."

What Fasano didn't say is that Progress Energy Florida is expected to seek another rate increase next year and was one of the Republican Party of Florida's top donors last quarter when it dashed off a check for $100,000.

Sen. Andy Gardiner, the committee chairman who is in the hunt to raise GOP cash as part of his run to become the next Senate president, didn't veer out of character either. The notoriously non-committal Republican from Orlando gave the same answer he's given before. "Thank you for your comments. When this came up two, three weeks ago I mentioned then I would take it under advisement,'' he said. "And we’ll do the same."