After years of debate, the fate of Florida Power & Light’s two proposed nuclear reactors and controversial high-voltage transmission lines at the Turkey Point facility is in the hands of Gov. Rick Scott and the cabinet, scheduled to consider the proposal on Tuesday.
The Florida Alliance for Consumer Protection’s main issue with these proposals is the continued use of early cost recovery as a method to fund nuclear plant construction. One problem with this funding formula is that it shifts the risk in building a new reactor to consumers while shielding companies from the consequences of their investment. Companies make a substantial sum of money if they pull out of a project and make even more through interest if a project is delayed. Utilities also face no penalty if they pull out of a project or if projects run billions of dollars over initial projections.
Last year, after collecting fees from ratepayers for years and telling regulators that charging in advance allowed them to build the plants faster and save consumers money, Duke energy pulled the plug on its Levy nuclear plant. There was no cheap energy, no cost savings and customers had to pay $1.5 billion on a project that would never be built while Duke Energy was able to keep $150 million in profits.
As cabinet members review the proposed Turkey Point reactors and transmission lines we urge them to consider the fact that FPL has not received certification by the NRC to move forward on the projects yet. The Florida Alliance For Consumer Protection would like to see the cabinet reject this proposal altogether, but the cabinet should at least delay this decision until the certification is issued to prevent the utility from charging customers for a project that may never exist.
Brad Ashwell, legislative director, Florida Alliance for Consumer Protection, Tallahassee