Media coverage leading up to today’s arguments before the Court highlights the range of issues resulting from the advanced cost recovery law.
A recent article in the Tampa Bay Times, “Nuclear advance fee case in front of Florida Supreme Court has big implications,” pinpoints the unfairness to consumers in Florida having to pre-pay for nuclear plants that may never be built:
“Should you be forced to pay in advance for a product you may never get? And if you don’t get what you paid for, should you get a refund?“
The Palm Beach Post focused on why a bipartisan coalition is seeking to repeal the advanced cost recovery law:
Democratic state Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda declared that, “Nuclear cost recovery is a hidden tax used by the utility companies to control our energy choices, eliminate competition and hold back the future,” while her Republican colleague, State Sen. Mike Fasano, said advance nuclear cost recovery was sold to the Florida Legislature with false construction promises and inaccurate fiscal projections.
Platts noted these Florida legislators said that if the Florida Supreme Court does not rule advanced cost recovery as unconstitutional, they will mount a new, more aggressive effort to repeal the law in the 2013 legislative session.
Though Fasano voted for the law in 2006, he since sponsored legislation (SB 740) to repeal nuclear cost recovery for new reactors during the construction and planning phase. Demonstrating bi-partisan support for a repeal, Rehwinkel-Vasilinda introduced a companion bill, HB 4031.
At the beginning of this year, Fasano detailed the rationale behind his opposition to nuclear cost recovery in an opinion piece in the Tampa Bay Times.
As a staunch advocate for consumers, I believe that protecting our citizens’ pocketbooks, particularly in these trying economic times, is of the utmost importance. In Florida, allowing utilities to recover the costs of a new power plant before the plant is placed in service and regardless of whether such a plant is ever even completed is unfair to consumers and bad public policy. Moreover, while it shifts the risk from private companies to ratepayers, utility shareholders still benefit from all the profits — in this case a guaranteed rate of return on their capital expenditures.
When I originally supported the advanced cost recovery, I never thought the Florida Public Service Commission would turn a blind eye to the high risks associated with such capital-intensive and complicated projects. I know that my fellow lawmakers did not intend to give utilities a blank check, but that is in essence what has happened.
Earlier this week, SACE’s executive director Stephen Smith authored an opinion piece in the Palm Beach Post contrasting the risks of this financing scheme versus the benefits that lower-cost efficiency could have for customers:
This is a high-stakes game that should not be played with your money. FPL has received a virtual “blank check” while the governor remains silent and state legislative leaders refuse to repeal the nuclear tax. They are protecting a scheme that favors an increasingly expensive way to meet our energy needs while ignoring low-cost resources such as energy efficiency. Astonishingly, FPL concedes that is hasn’t actually decided to build the reactors, yet insists that consumers should cover the costs.
SACE remains committed to protecting utility ratepayers in Florida from the negative impacts of this nuclear tax scheme. Stay tuned for further developments and consider taking action now to tell the PSC and the Legislature to Say NO to the Nuclear Tax!