Make us your home page
Instagram

Florida House representative files bill to repeal advance fee for building nuclear plants

The latest effort to repeal the advance fee collected from utility customers to build new nuclear power plants began its move through the Legislature on Wednesday.

State Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, D-Tallahasee, who described the advance fee as an unfair "tax," said a growing coalition of lawmakers support the bill she filed.

Whether the bill reaches the finish line during the next legislative session remains a question.

"I can't say for sure that this is going to be an easy lift … but I think it's got a much better chance," Vasilinda said.

When lawmakers — led by Rep. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey — began working to repeal the law three years ago, legislative leadership refused to give it consideration.

But the ongoing collection of the fee by Progress Energy Florida and its parent company, Duke Energy, has angered many of the utility's 1.6 million customers. The utility is using the law to collect money for a proposed $24 billion nuclear plant in Levy County but has not committed to actually building it.

By Dec. 31, the utility will have collected $750 million from customers for the project. Altogether, Duke Energy has spent more than $1.1 billion on the Levy project and will collect the balance on those expenses over the next four years — even if the plant never gets built.

Rep. Dwight Dudley, D-St. Petersburg, defeated Republican incumbent Frank Farkas in November's election largely by campaigning to overturn the law.

Other lawmakers "agree that something should be done," Dudley said. "They're whispering about it. I'm screaming about it.

"We're going to keep screaming until leadership sees this for what it is."

State lawmakers passed the advance fee legislation in 2006 as a way to promote construction of new nuclear plants. The state wanted to diversify the mix of energy production, which is dominated by natural gas. State leaders worry that electric bills might spike with a sudden increase in the volatile price of natural gas, now at almost historic lows.

In addition to the legislative efforts to repeal the law, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, an environmental and consumer group, has asked the state Supreme Court to declare the law unconstitutional. The court has not made a decision.

Vasilinda said the state is picking winners and losers by focusing attention on nuclear at the expense of Floridians and economic development.

"It discourages other kinds of innovation," Vasilinda said. "It keeps folks from getting into the game because you have invested so much into nuclear. … I think we are in a time of reform."

Florida House representative files bill to repeal advance fee for building nuclear plants 12/05/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 5, 2012 6:40pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Pasco county lawyer disbarred for taking woman's money

    Real Estate

    NEW PORT RICHEY — The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday disbarred Pasco County attorney and former congressional candidate Constantine Kalogianis.

    The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday disbarred Pasco County attorney and former congressional candidate Constantine Kalogianis. 
[2016 booking photo via Pasco County Sheriff's Office]
  2. Rick Scott signs package of tax breaks

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott signed a tax cut package Thursday that — while vastly scaled back from what he wanted — eliminates the so-called "tampon tax" and offers tax holidays for back-to-school shoppers and Floridians preparing for hurricane season.

    Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a tax cut package that will cost state coffers $91.6 million during the upcoming year. [Joe Raedle | Getty Images]
  3. FBI probes fraudster's alleged church scam following Tampa Bay Times report

    Real Estate

    PLANT CITY — Once again, the FBI is investigating felon fraudster Victor Thomas Clavizzao.

    The FBI is investigating convicted mortgage fraudster Victor Thomas Clavizzao on new allegations following a Tampa Bay Times report.
[TImes file photo]

  4. Tampa Bay is ground-zero for assignment of benefits cases over broken auto glass

    Banking

    When Rachel Thorpe tried to renew her auto insurance last year for her Toyta RAV4, she was stunned to see her monthly premium had nearly doubled to $600. The Sarasota driver was baffled since her only recent claim was over a broken windshield.

    Auto glass lawsuits filed by a third party (through what's known as assignment of benefits) are skyrocketing in Tampa Bay.
[Times file photo]
  5. Siesta Beach tops Dr. Beach's rankings of best locations in America

    Tourism

    Three beaches in Florida made it on a highly coveted list of the top 10 in America this year, ranked by Dr. Stephen Leatherman, a.k.a. "Dr. Beach."

    This May 18, 2017 photo shows Siesta Beach on Siesta Key in Sarasota, Fla. Siesta Beach is No. 1 on the list of best beaches for the summer of 2017 compiled by Stephen Leatherman, also known as Dr. Beach, a professor at Florida International University. [Chris O'Meara | Associated Press]