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Utility regulators sign off on $62.7 million for FPL nuke costs

Friday, October 16th, 2009 by Dara Kam

The Public Service Commission just agreed by a 3-1 vote to let customers pick up the tab for $62.7 million of Florida Power & Light’s construction costs for new nuclear power plants.

Commissioner Nancy Argenziano casting the sole vote against the increase.

FPL customers will pay $0.67 for 1,000 kilowatt hours for the nuclear cost charges next year as a result of today’s vote.

The Juno Beach-based utility is also asking for a $1.3 billion base rate hike, but when the panel votes on that issue remains unclear.

Gov. Charlie Crist asked the PSC to wait until next year when his two new appointees to the regulatory agency come on board to vote on the FPL base rate hike and another $500 million base rate increase sought by Progress Energy Florida.

Argenziano, appointed by Crist in 2007, is likely to become chairwoman of the panel next year.

Even if FPL’s base rate increase is approved, customers’ bills will go down by at least $9 because of a drop in fuel charges.

Utility reg chairman Carter: “Just leave us alone.”

Friday, October 16th, 2009 by Dara Kam

Public Service Commission Chairman Matthew Carter wants everyone to leave him and his colleagues alone so they can get on with their jobs and has no plans to ask for an internal investigation into charges of possible conflicts of interest or bias against Commissioner Nancy Argenziano, he said today.

“Right now I plan on getting through this hearing,” Carter told reporters during a break in a nuclear cost recovery meeting now ongoing.

The panel is scheduled to vote later today on requests from Florida Power & Light Co. to charge customers $63 million for what the utility’s expenses on nuclear power plant construction and a similar $236 million request from Progress Energy Florida.

Yesterday, Associated Industries of Florida President Barney Bishop asked that PSC’s inspector general look into thousands of BlackBerry messages exchanged between Argenziano and her aide Larry Williams over the past two years. Bishop accused Argenziano of potentially breaking laws barring ex parte communications between regulators and the utilities and of breaking her oath of office in unflattering comments aimed at her colleagues.

Read about FPL’s link with AIF’s press release here.

AIF’s demand is yet another distraction for the panel also poised to vote on about $2 billion in base rate increases – $1.3 billion sought by FPL and $500 million by Progress.

Ten days ago, the panel turned down a $1.6 billion request from FPL to build a natural gas pipeline through 14 counties.

State Attorney Willie Meggs said recently that his investigators have found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing at the agency. And several internal investigations resulted in similar findings.
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