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. Tampa Bay cools down to more moderate home price increases

    Real Estate

    The increase in home prices throughout much of the Tampa Bay area is definitely slowing from the torrid rate a year ago.

    This home close to Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa sold for $3.055 million in August, making it Hillsborough County's top sale of the month. [Courtesy of Bredt Cobitz]
  2. With successful jewelry line, Durant High alum Carley Ochs enjoys 'incredible ride'

    Business

    BRANDON

    As a child Carley Ochs played dress up, draped in her grandmother's furs.

    Founder Carley Ochs poses for a portrait in her Ford Bronco at the Bourbon & Boweties warehouse in Brandon, Fla. on September 19, 2017. Ochs is a Durant High and Florida State University graduate.
  3. At Menorah Manor, planning paid off during Irma

    Nursing Homes

    ST. PETERSBURG — Doris Rosenblatt and her husband, Frank, have lived in Florida all of their lives, so they know about hurricanes.

    Raisa Collins, 9, far left, works on a craft project as Certified Nursing Assistant Shuntal Anthony holds Cassidy Merrill, 1, while pouring glue for Quanniyah Brownlee, 9, right, at Menorah Manor in St. Petersburg on Sept. 15. To help keep its patients safe during Hurricane Irma, Menorah Manor allowed employees to shelter their families and pets at the nursing home and also offered daycare through the week. The facility was able to accommodate and feed everyone who weathered the storm there. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  4. After Irma, nursing homes scramble to meet a hard deadline

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Florida's nursing homes and assisted-living facilities find themselves in an unfamiliar place this week — pushing back against Gov. Rick Scott's administration over new rules that require them to purchase generator capacity by Nov. 15 to keep their residents safe and comfortable in a power …

    In this Sept. 13 photo, a woman is transported from The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills as patients are evacuated after a loss of air conditioning due to Hurricane Irma in Hollywood. Nine have died and patients had to be moved out of the facility, many of them on stretchers or in wheelchairs. Authorities have launched a criminal investigation to figure out what went wrong and who, if anyone, was to blame. [Amy Beth Bennett | South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP]
  5. Trigaux: How Moffitt Cancer's M2Gen startup won $75 million from Hearst

    Business

    TAMPA — A Moffitt Cancer Center spin-off that's building a massive genetic data base of individual patient cancer information just caught the attention of a deep-pocketed health care investor.

    Richard P. Malloch is the president of Hearst Business Media, which is announcing a $75 million investment in M2Gen, the for-profit cancer informatics unit spun off by Tampa's Moffitt Cancer Center. Malloch's job is to find innovative investments for the Hearst family fortune. A substantial amount has been invested in health care, financial and the transportation and logistics industries.