Friday, June 15, 2018
Business

Duke Energy CEO wants pay-as-you-go construction

RALEIGH, N.C. — The newly installed chief executive officer of Duke Energy wants to change how the utility is regulated in the Carolinas and Florida so that America's largest electric company can more easily pass along the cost of big power plants a little at a time.

The company's desire to get consumers to start paying for big-dollar projects with price tags that could run into the billions is high on the agenda of Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good, who stepped into the company's top job Monday. That's what she told a Wall Street analyst shortly after her hiring was announced two weeks ago.

Good told Sanford Bernstein analyst Hugh Wynn that her first priority is fully integrating the operations of former in-state rivals Duke Energy and Progress Energy, which Duke bought out in a deal that closed a year ago.

A second top goal is changing how the company charges for big projects in the states where Duke Energy has the bulk of its customers, Wynn wrote in a note to investors. North Carolina and Florida basically follow a build-now, collect-later process in which utilities must show regulators their costs and justify requested profit margins. The cost of new power plants can't be passed on to customers until construction is done and the power flows.

Good's comments about regulatory changes represented her long-range thinking and the company had not made any specific proposals, spokesman Tom Williams said.

Those who support charging consumers for plant construction while it's still under way say it reduces the overall price tag of a power plant because starting payments early in the multiyear process reduces financing costs, holding down the price consumers ultimately pay. Opponents argue allowing utilities to charge for construction work in progress shifts risk to ratepayers by forcing them to pay now for a plant that may not produce power for years, if ever.

Florida regulations bar utilities from billing customers for building costs or upgrades until generating facilities go into service, but a 2006 law made an exception for nuclear power plant construction. That allowed Raleigh-based Progress Energy to charge for upgrades to a shuttered nuclear plant in Crystal River and a planned new one for nearby Levy County.

Duke Energy, which later purchased Progress Energy, decided in February to close the damaged Crystal River plant, allowing it the possibility to earn a $50 million profit on the $500 million that customers already paid. Florida customers also paid $1.5 billion for the Levy plant. Duke could earn $150 million if that project is not built.

Florida lawmakers this year made changes to that 2006 law.

Comments
Your barista is a robot. Should it be friendly?

Your barista is a robot. Should it be friendly?

SAN FRANCISCO - The cold, steely arm of Fernando the Barista swirled the foam of my matcha latte, set it down gently, and waved goodbye from inside a glass case. San Francisco, 2018. Where you can get robot pizza and robot salad, and now, a robot mat...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Florida’s unemployment rate drops to 3.8 percent

Florida’s unemployment rate drops to 3.8 percent

Just when it seemed like Florida’s unemployment rate couldn’t get lower, it did. According to the state figures out Friday, Florida’s jobless rate dipped to a near 18-year low of 3.8 percent in May after holding steady at 3.9 percen...
Published: 06/15/18
St. Petersburg home becomes finalist in HGTV contest

St. Petersburg home becomes finalist in HGTV contest

ST. PETERSBURG — A house in St. Petersburg’s Old Northeast is a finalist in HGTV’s Ultimate House Hunt contest. Built in 2007 in the Mission Revival style, the 4,000-square-foot home a block from Coffee Pot Bayou is among 12 nationwide in the "curb a...
Published: 06/15/18
Florida’s first not-for-profit coding school is opening in St. Petersburg

Florida’s first not-for-profit coding school is opening in St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG — Filling in a hole that was left by The Iron Yard’s exodus last year, a new computer coding school will open its doors to its first class in downtown St. Petersburg on July 23.The Academy at Suncoast Developers Guild will operate thro...
Published: 06/15/18
Tampa-based Robbins Property Associates pays $43-million for Boynton Beach apartment community

Tampa-based Robbins Property Associates pays $43-million for Boynton Beach apartment community

Tampa-based Robbins Property Associates, has bought Aventine at Boyton Beach, a 216-unit apartment community, for $43 million.Aventine, garden-style apartments that are 95 percent occupied, will be renovated and renamed "Verona at Boynton Beach."It i...
Published: 06/15/18
Florida craft beer guild: Big Beer is pushing us out of Publix

Florida craft beer guild: Big Beer is pushing us out of Publix

The national battle between Big Beer and local craft breweries is playing out on the shelves of your neighborhood Publix — and some favorite Florida brewmakers are losing.The guild that represents Florida brewers says at least 12 small breweries have...
Published: 06/15/18
Accused of racial profiling, Lowe’s ends policy of checking customer receipts as they leave

Accused of racial profiling, Lowe’s ends policy of checking customer receipts as they leave

Memorial Day weekend was supposed to bring three productive days of home improvement for Will Mega, a dean at a North Philadelphia charter school.He’d go to two Lowe’s locations near his home in Philadelphia’s Wynnefield neighborhood for a grill and ...
Published: 06/15/18
McDonald’s to test alternatives to plastic straws in U.S.

McDonald’s to test alternatives to plastic straws in U.S.

NEW YORK — McDonald’s said Friday it will switch to paper straws at all its locations in the United Kingdom and Ireland, and test an alternative to plastic ones in some of its U.S. restaurants later this year.The burger chain and other fast-food comp...
Published: 06/15/18
Extending Albert Whitted’s runway could help Innovation District takeoff

Extending Albert Whitted’s runway could help Innovation District takeoff

ST. PETERSBURG — Albert Whitted Airport wants to extend its main runway. But what would benefit the airport could also benefit the St. Pete Innovation District.Moving the runway would ease building restrictions around the airport, allowing the Univer...
Published: 06/15/18
Strange brew? Tampa Bay group hopes to grow hops and medical marijuana in the same spot

Strange brew? Tampa Bay group hopes to grow hops and medical marijuana in the same spot

ST. PETERSBURG --- Among topics that stir passionate interest, two that rank high are medical marijuana and craft beers.A group of Tampa Bay entrepreneurs has ambitious plans to profit from both.They are leasing a vast warehouse space in St. Petersbu...
Published: 06/15/18