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Public Service Commission Gives Nuclear Utilities License to Steal Millions from Ratepayers
"Early Cost Recovery" scam approved to fund upgrading of aging reactors and new nukes that may never be built
Michael Canney alachuagreen@
Steve Showen seventhgeneration@
The Florida Public Service Commission has unanimously approved requests by Progress Energy Florida and Florida Power and Light to collect hundreds of millions of dollars in advance from their utility customers to pay for risky nuclear reactor construction projects that will waste billions of dollars and threaten the health and safety of Florida residents for many generations if they are built.
The $282 million approved by the PSC on Monday raises the total amount of "cost recovery" funds charged to customers by these utilities to more than $1 billion, and the utilities are not required to refund the money even if the work is never done and the reactors are never built.
"These so-called 'Early Cost Recovery' fees are collected under a 2006 Florida Statute that was written by and for the utilities that benefit from it, at the expense of the public" said Jennifer Sullivan, Green Party of FL co-chair. Sullivan adds, "The Green Party calls this a 'license to steal' and we strongly support Florida House Bill 4301, a bill introduced by Rep. Rehwinkle-Vasilinda that will repeal the nuclear cost recovery ripoff"
Florida Greens share the concerns expressed by these elected officials:
"We're being charged up front for unproven nuclear reactor designs that we don't want near our homes, that will double the price of electricity, and that take the money from renewable power we do want. But Florida ratepayers are still required to pay in advance for costs associated with these nuclear reactors. And if the reactors aren't built, we don't get our money back. This cancer cannot go unchecked." -- South Miami Mayor Dr. Philip Stoddard
"Pinecrest residents - along with many other Florida ratepayers - have already been bilked out of millions of dollars to date in increased rates approved by the PSC for nuclear reactors that may never pump out a single electron of power. It is not fair to the city of Pinecrest or to any Florida residents to have them pay for an energy source from which they may never benefit. There are lower-risk and less expensive alternatives available, such as energy efficiency, and we need to focus on those approaches as we look to the future." --- Pinecrest Mayor Cindy Lerner
PEF plans to build two new reactors in rural Levy County, and FPL has proposed two new reactors at their Turkey Point nuclear facility on Biscayne Bay, near Miami. These projects, if completed, would be the most expensive nuclear power plants ever built in the U.S., but many analysts believe the projects are not financially feasible.
"It is understandable why PEF and FPL continue to press ahead with their plans for nuclear expansion, despite huge increases in cost estimates and numerous scheduling delays," said GPF co-chair Michael Canney. "Why would the utilities announce plans to abandon these projects if they can continue collecting funds in advance from ratepayers, who won't get a refund if the projects are eventually canceled?"
"These costs are not only unjust and unreasonable, but are totally unnecessary. We're living in Florida, the Sunshine State! We should be leading the world in distributed rooftop solar energy! That would help save the planet and create lots of new green jobs," said Cathy Gilbert of the Miami-Dade Green Party. "Instead of committing public funds to promote the expansion of expensive, dangerous nuclear technology, we could be investing in improving the economy and protecting our environment."
"If the Public Service Commission really served the public interest, they'd deny these requests by the utilities," said Steve Showen, a Miami-Dade Green Party leader active in opposing the Turkey Point reactors, "but the stark reality is that 'We the People,' the 99% if you will, have been cut out of the process. We must come to terms with the fact that private corporate predators have hijacked our political process, and if we really want a green energy economy and a healthy planet, we'll have to cut ourselves in. We won't have a healthy planet without a healthy democracy!"
Greens will continue to oppose nuclear expansion and its associated public rip-off schemes. We support aggressive conservation and efficiency measures, linked to more democratic and secure distributed energy production, such as solar thermal water heaters and solar panels on rooftops across the state. A carbon-free, nuclear free energy policy can be achieved, but only when the stranglehold of Big Oil, King Coal, and the Nuclear Mafia has been broken.
PEF and FPL ratepayers have filed a federal class action lawsuit challenging the "Nuclear Cost Recovery" scam.
The Florida PSC is scheduled to issue its final order on nuclear cost recovery for PEF and FPL on November 8, 2011.
For more explanation and detail of The Green Party of Florida positions on energy, check out the links and contacts below.
October 22, 2009 -- Florida Green Party Opposes Public Service Commission Approval Of Nuclear Cost Recovery For Utilities, Calling It A "A License To Steal"
Southern Allaince for Clean Energy:
Florida PSC Fails to Protect Consumers