In 2006, the Florida Legislature passed a law that allows power companies to charge customers for nuclear power plants that may — or may not — ever be built.
Times were different back then. Florida was growing, the cost of natural gas was rising, a tsunami hadn\’t hit Japan\’s Fukushima nuclear power plant and coal-fired plants faced an uncertain future because of concern about carbon emissions and climate change.
At the time, nuclear power plants looked pretty promising because they emit no greenhouse gases and had improved their safety records since 1979\’s Three Mile Island accident.
But plans for nuclear plants take years to pass government safety regulations and the structures cost billions to build. So power companies convinced state lawmakers to let them bill you now for plants yet to come. It\’s called the advance nuclear recovery fee.
And last week, north of Tampa, we all saw its downside. Last Tuesday, Duke Energy announced it was shuttering a nuclear power plant it had hoped to expand, unable to fix a major crack that worsened when it tried to make the repair itself.
And Duke gets to pocket the fees it\’s been charging customers like you.
Leaders of the Florida Legislature say they are open to revising or repealing the law, something our local utility, Florida Power & Light, strongly opposes.