FPL’s plan to not charge customers $22 million in fees is approved

The Florida Public Service Commission on Wednesday unanimously approved a request from Florida Power & Light to take a one-year break from charging customers in advance for planning and construction of its proposed new nuclear power plant.

The decision is expected to save customers $22 million in nuclear cost recovery fees that regulators typically approve to allow the company FPL to charge for planning and construction of the company’s proposed nuclear units at its Turkey Point site on Biscayne Bay. Since 2008, FPL has charged customers $282 million in advance for the construction, under the advanced nuclear cost recovery fee it helped to push through the Legislature in 2006.

The change translates to a savings of about 34 cents a month for customers that use 1,000 kilowatt hours, beginning on the January 2017 bill. Those savings, however, will be offset, if the commission approves a $1.33 billion, 25.7 percent increase, in base rates beginning in 2017, as FPL has requested. The increase would be phased in over three years.

The rate increase hearing is scheduled to begin in August. If approved, the customer who uses 1,000 kilowatt hours a month will see the base rate portion of their bill rise by $14.62 a month to $71.67, according to FPL.

The decision to stop charging customers follows the decision by FPL to delay nuclear construction. After eight years of planning, FPL announced in April it was postponing construction on units 6 and 7 of its nuclear fleet until at least 2020. It said, however, it would continue to pursue a federal license that would clear the way for construction. The company has yet to receive federal approval to construct the plant.

The delay means two next-generation reactors initially projected to go online as early as 2018 and 2020 likely would not fire up for perhaps another decade.