Attorneys for consumers and business and environmental groups are fighting FPL’s request for a waiver from filing an annual analysis about the feasibility of adding two nuclear reactors in South Florida.
An appeals court Wednesday overturned a decision by Gov. Rick Scott and the state Cabinet that could have helped clear the way for Florida Power & Light to add two nuclear reactors in Miami-Dade County.
The nuclear power industry’s attempted revival is relying on a corps of environmental converts to the cause, including Obama climate czar Carol Browner and ex-EPA chief Christine Todd Whitman.
If you like the U.S. nuclear power industry, it’s a Michael Jordan-type gallant return. If you don’t like nukes, it’s more of a Gloria Swanson gruesome comeback in Sunset Boulevard.
FPL serves virtually all residential and commercial customers in Flagler County. Late last year, the Florida Public Service Commission approved a 5 percent increase in FPL’s utility bills, and the company continues to charge customers for future nuclear power plant construction that may never take place.
The Florida Public Service Commission on Monday approved an agreement with Juno Beach-based FPL that will charge residential customers 48 cents per 1,000 kilowatt hours of power for nuclear construction at least 10 years away. The PSC backed an increase of 89 cents for the same amount of power that will be added to monthly bills of Duke Energy customers starting in January 2014, for nuclear plants that’ll never be built.
The changes in the nuclear cost bill establish a series of benchmarks for a utility seeking to build a nuclear power plant to follow in order to impose pre-construction fees. But the amendment also removed a provision that would have required the companies to refund money if they halted their plans.
Flagler County customers of FPL will pay an additional $1.69 a month, or $20 for the year in 2013, for nuclear-plant construction slated for the distant future, and that may never take place. It’s the third year in a row that customers are paying those up-front costs.
The up-front nuclear costs for plant construction have become highly controversial, at least in part because there is no guarantee that FPL and Progress will build the planned reactors and because projected costs have risen to over $40 billion for four reactors. The Supreme Court will decide the matter.
FPL, the state’s largest utility, said 2012 fuel costs are now projected to be $460 million less than it had anticipated earlier as natural gas costs keep dropping. That won’t affect surcharges for future nuclear power plant construction.