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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Tampa Bay lawmakers push to end nuclear power fee, demand billions in refunds



Two Tampa Bay lawmakers are renewing a plan that would force energy companies to refund billions of dollars collected for nuclear power projects that were never built.

Reps. Amanda Murphy, D-New Port Richey, and Chris Latvala, R-Clearwater, have again filed legislation to repeal the Advanced Cost Recovery Fee. The fee allows utility companies like Duke Energy and Florida Power and Light to collect money for nuclear power plants. But the companies don't have to guarantee the plants will ever be built.

"Duke Energy has already collected over 3 billion dollars for failed projects that will never provide consumers with a single kilowatt of energy," Murphy said in a statement Thursday announcing the bill (HB 395). "We don’t need to wait and see the same thing happen on the East Coast of our state.”

Similar attempts to eliminate the fee and force a refund have been made for years.

Last year, attempts to tack the language onto other reforms to the Public Service Commission and utility regulations were shot down in the House Energy and Utilities Subcommittee. Arguing to repeal the fee in March, Rep. Dwight Dudley, D-St. Petersburg, called it a "utility tax."

State regulators in 2014 ordered Duke Energy to refund $54 million in fees collected for a Levy County plant that was scrapped. But Latvala says that's not enough.

"While a small refund was made regarding the Advanced Nuclear Cost Recovery fee, this in no way compliments the money that consumers of Duke paid for a project which never developed into completion," he said in a statement.

No bill has been filed in the Senate at this time.

[Last modified: Thursday, November 12, 2015 2:31pm]


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