Utility regulators scrutinize energy giants’ nuclear energy plansby Dara Kam | August 10th, 2011
In the wake of Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant disaster, utility regulators will again start looking into an expansion of nuclear power in Florida and decide how much of the bill will be shouldered by rate payers.
Florida Power & Light and Progress Energy are asking the Public Service Commission to sign on off their proposals to pass off about $355 million in nuclear energy-related costs to residents and businesses. The money would go to upgrade existing power plants, including one in St. Lucie County, and two cover the costs of new nuclear reactors that may not begin operating for at least another decade.
Hearings on the nuclear cost recovery plans are scheduled to begin this morning at 9:30 a.m in Tallahassee and can be viewed live on the internet at www.floridapsc.com or The Florida Channel’s website at www.thefloridachannel.org. The meeting will begin with a discussion of which documents will remain secret.
Juno Beach-based FPL is asking for about $196 million next year to help upgrade nuclear plants in St. Lucie and Miami-Dade counties and to move forward on a plan to build two new reactors at the Miami-Dade site known as “Turkey Point.”
The energy companies and many state lawmakers the expansion of nuclear power is necessary to wean the state off fossil fuels and to save money for customers.
But attorneys for large businesses, consumers and environmental groups question the methodology the energy companies are using and whether customers will actually benefit in the long run.
The state Office of Public Counsel, which represents consumers, argues that FPL’s decisions to “fast track” the new reactors led to inflated costs – an argument FPL disputes.
If approved, FPL’s request would result in a $2.09 increase next year for residential customers, based on 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity usage.
- The News Service of Florida contributed to this story.