Tampa Senate Delegation Teams to Fight Nuke Plant Charges

By: Jim Turner | Posted: February 22, 2013 11:30 AM
Wilton Simpson, Jeff Brandes and John Legg

Senators Wilton Simpson, Jeff Brandes and John Legg

UPDATED: Legislators are making overtures they are moving closer to reversing a 2006 law that allows power companies to charge customer money for nuclear power plants before they are built.

On Thursday, Sens. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, John Legg, R-Lutz, and Wilton Simpson, R-New Port Richey, announced they would take on the utility giants that have been able to bill customers more than $1 billion for plants that may never be built.

“This legislation brings accountability and common sense into our energy policy discussion,” stated Legg.

Legg intends to bring forward a bill with the rest of the Tampa legislative delegation to both upend the law and require the power companies to return any money collected if the plans for the plant are shut down.

Expect Florida Power & Light to fight the effort.

FPL President Eric Silagy has told the News Service of Florida the law has allowed the Juno Beach-based company to upgrade already-existing nuclear plants in Miami-Dade and St. Lucie counties, while planning for the possible construction of two new reactors.

"It saves our customers tremendous amounts of money, because it is pay-go,'' he told the News Service of Florida.

The law has been the target of the multistate watchdog Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, which was quick to back the Tampa delegation.

"We look forward to a robust and full-throated debate on this critical issue in the upcoming legislative session, but we are mindful and concerned of the significant financial and political influence that Florida's investor-owned utilities, in particular Florida Power & Light, exercise over our elected representatives in Tallahassee,” stated SACE Executive Director Dr. Stephen Smith

Last month, House Speaker Will Weatherford told reporters that as energy demands have changed, notably the downward cost of natural gas, he was open to revisiting the law.

“What looked like a great idea in 2006, in hindsight may not have been,” Weatherford said during the Associated Press’s pre-session summit in the Capitol. 

“We can’t go back and rewrite time and history but I know there are people interested in this area and if the committee decides to take it up we certainly will be supportive of their efforts.”

(This story has been updated to reflect the amount of money the utilities, combined, have been able to raise for nuclear plant construction.)

Reach Jim Turner at or at (772) 215-9889.

Comments (3)

CMSgt (ret) Kenneth Canterbury
1:20PM FEB 23RD 2013
I have never understood how or why the state legislature permitted the power companies to simply steal from the residents because they may someday do something. I am not required by state law to pay John upfront in the event he would someday like to open a hardware store. If FP&L filed for a federal permit today to build a Nuke plant , it would take in excess of 10 years before they finally received denial or approval. The bill of goods alway being sold by the power companies is that eventually the public will see a savings. At 79 yerars old, I seriously doubt that I will ever see any new plants being built or recognize any future savings. We know from experiences that as the time passes all promises of reduced cost evaporate with new claims of need for increased revenue.

They just received a signiificant iincrease in that they convinced the state to permit them to raise the customer service flat charge. Theyhad to lower per KW production cost so naturally they needed to increase a non-flexible variablem income.

I want to thank those legislatures that are taking the bull by the horns and trying to resolve the problems previously created.
8:59PM FEB 21ST 2013
after taxpayers providing 500 million in free money for duke energy with absolutely nothing to show for it's about time.
7:50PM FEB 21ST 2013
We told you so . . . . but you didn't want to listen . . . .

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