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.
Customers will be required to pay as much as $1.466 billion over 20 years to cover continuing costs at the defective and shuttered Crystal River plant, and they will not be refunded the $150 million they’ve paid in up-front costs for the Levy reactors.
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.
Four Republican senators said Thursday they will try to revamp a controversial 2006 law that has led to utility customers paying hundreds of millions of dollars for nuclear-power projects — but stopped short of calling for a total repeal.
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.
With smart meters as with numerous other issues, some of our most basic scientific or technological advances are being held hostage to perversions of evidence no more legitimate than superstition and sham controversies.
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.
The state’s largest electric utilities are seeking approval from the Florida Public Service Commission to collect money that goes toward upgrading already-existing nuclear plants and helps pay for early work on new reactors that may or may not be built years from now.
A controversial Progress Energy Florida project to build two nuclear reactors in Levy County will not start producing electricity until 2024 — and likely will cost between $19 billion and $24 billion, the company now says, but customers will still have to pay for them now.
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.