Progress says it's not scrapping nuke plants, but will it delay them?
Progress Energy is asking the Tampa Tribune to retract a two-paragraph brief that ran on page 6B of its print editions, which said the utility company had plans to scrap development of its nuclear power plant after state regulators last week rejected its $500 million rate increase request.Download Utility reaction to rate hike rejection1
The article sparked a protest from Sen. Mike Fasano, who sent a letter to Public Service Commission Chairwoman Nancy Argenziano asking the PSC to demand that the company refund to customers the money it had already collected from customers to pay for development of the new nuclear plants. "Since Progress Energy was allowed to raise rates last year and previously for advance nuclear cost recovery, it only seems fair that the customers who paid those rates should be given a refund for a project that is no longer in the works,'' Fasano wrote. Download Argenziano24a.ltr
Progress Energy spokeswoman Suzanne Grant said the brief article "was completely false.'' The company announced last week that it was considering all its options and had made no decisions about what actions to take in light of the rate case.
"Nothing has changed,'' Grant said. "We are thoughtfully reviewing last week's decision as to how we will move forward.''
Fasano responded that he has received mixed signals from the company about what it plans to do and will ask the head of the Senate's utility committee to bring Progress Energy officials in to clarify. He said he heard from the company's lobbyist that Progress Energy is considering delaying the development of the nuclear power plant, even though regulators gave the company permission to start charging customers in advance for it.
"Whether to scrap it or delay it, they need to refund the people's money because it sounds like they don't know if it's going to be built or not,'' he said.