Make us your home page
Instagram

Four Florida lawmakers join lawsuit against nuclear advance fee

A group of four legislators say the Florida law that requires utility customers to pay in advance for new nuclear plants is unconstitutional and have joined a lawsuit asking the state Supreme Court to overturn it.

The two state representatives and two senators plan to submit their arguments to the court on Monday. The lawmakers state that the law is vague yet enables utilities to collect hundreds of millions from consumers with little framework for accountability.

"The statute is all but devoid of clarity and specificity and should therefore be found unconstitutional," the legislators argue.

The brief supports a case brought by the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE), an advocate for energy efficiency and clean energy.

In December, the organization filed a lawsuit with the state Supreme Court, appealing decisions by the PSC in 2011 that allow utilities to continue to collect hundreds of millions in nuclear construction fees for plants that may never be built. SACE also argues that the law is unconstitutional.

"It is sad that the PSC appears willing to let the power companies unfairly tax Florida families and businesses on an increasingly weak assumption they will build new nuclear reactors sometime next decade," said Stephen A. Smith, executive director of SACE.

Lawmakers, led by Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, and Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel-Vasilinda, D-Tallahassee, have been trying unsuccessfully to repeal the law in the legislature. Sen. Charlie Dean, R-Inverness, and Rep. Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach, joined Fasano and Vasilinda in the brief opposing the law.

To hasten the construction of new nuclear power plants, the Legislature in 2006 passed a law that allows utilities to collect fees from customers before the reactors come online.

The measure was designed to save money on construction of the projects by paying some of the costs up front rather than allowing interest to accumulate on borrowed money and be paid after the plants come online.

The state's two largest utilities, Florida Power & Light and Progress Energy Florida are seeking federal licenses to construct new nuclear plants.

Progress will pocket $150 million from the fees it is collecting, which will reach $1.1 billion by the end of 2017 — whether it builds the plant or not. If it does build the plant, the utility will pocket $3.5 billion before reactor produces electricity.

The lawmakers state in their brief that these kinds of benefits to the utilities are simply an unintended by-product of a vague law.

"We may not know the precise legislative intent in drafting (the advance fee law)," the lawmakers state. "But we can say that the result of that section cannot be what the Legislature intended."

Four Florida lawmakers join lawsuit against nuclear advance fee 04/06/12 [Last modified: Friday, April 6, 2012 9:27pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. How a group of Florida tomato growers could help derail NAFTA

    Agriculture

    Tony DiMare, a third-generation Florida tomato grower, has spent two decades contending with cheap Mexican imports, watching his neighbors abandon crops in their fields and sell off their farms when they couldn't match the price of incoming produce.

    Workers fill a trailer with tomatoes as they harvest them in the fields of DiMare Farms in Florida City. [Joe Raedle | Getty Images(2013)]
  2. Pinellas deputies go door-to-door at dawn to arrest unlicensed contractors

    Crime

    Pinellas deputies began pounding on doors at 5 a.m. Tuesday, part of a widespread roundup of contractors accused of working without licences and workers compensation.

    Pinellas Sheriff deputies J. Short, left, and T. Festa, right, arrest suspect Randy Ronchi, center, in Largo early Tuesday, as part of a joint roundup of unlicensed contractors. [SCOTT KEELER | Times]
  3. HQ2 watch: As deadline looms for Amazon headquarters pitch, one metro bows out

    Business

    If there's one national business saga to keep up on these days, it's the frenzy by metropolitan areas — including Tampa Bay — to make their best pitches to Amazon in the hope of being chosen as the new location for the giant online retailer's second massive headquarters. HQ2, as it is called, would create …

    Cities across the country are trying to land Amazon's second headquarters, known as HQ2. In Birmingham, Ala., giant Amazon boxes were constructed and placed around the city as part of its "Bring A to B" campaign. [Ali Clark/Bring A to B Campaign]
  4. Shares in Tampa's Health Insurance Innovations rebound from stronger earnings report

    Corporate

    TAMPA — After a sharp drop in its stock price in August and September, Health Insurance Innovations on Monday announced strong revenue and net income gains in preliminary numbers for its third quarter of the year. The company also announced a $50 million stock buyback over the next two years meant to bolster its …

    After losing more than half its market value between August and September, shares in Tampa's Health Insurance Innovations are rebounding."The new share repurchase program underscores our confidence in our business strategy, financial performance, and the long-term prospects of our company while also allowing us the financial flexibility to continue to invest in our business," company CEO Gavin Southwell announced Monday. [Courtesy of LinkedIn]
  5. Trigaux: Campaign aims to leverage tourism ads to recruit millennials, businesses

    Economic Development

    TAMPA — Tampa Bay's unleashing one of its best weapons — a cadre of successful entrepreneurs and young business leaders — in a marketing campaign already under way but officially …

    Erin Meagher, founder of Tampa coconut oil products company Beneficial Blends, is part of a group of business savvy millennial entrepreneurs and managers who are helping to pitch the work-live-play merits of the Tampa Bay market in a new marketing campaign called Make It Tampa Bay. The campaign is backed by Visit Tampa Bay and the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. and aimed at recruiting more millennial talent to relocate and stay in the Tampa Bay area. [Courtesy Tampa Hillsborough EDC, Visit Tampa Bay]