Monday, May 21, 2018
Business

Public counsel seeks delay in hearings on broken Crystal River nuclear plant

Public hearings about the broken Crystal River nuclear plant could be delayed as much as seven months, until January 2013, as lawyers and experts continue to sift through millions of documents in the case.

J.R. Kelly, the state public counsel who represents consumers before the Public Service Commission, said his office initially requested a 60-day extension of the case, which would move it from June to August.

But that's when several annual rate hearings begin. During a forum about nuclear energy Wednesday at St. Petersburg College, Kelly said further delay is needed because the case involving the broken Crystal River nuclear plant, which has been idle since 2009 because of cracks in its concrete reactor containment building, is the most complicated the commission has faced.

"It is unprecedented," Kelly said. "We think it will go two or three weeks. We don't want to start and stop. We also wanted more time to develop our testimony."

Kelly's office has hired two world-renowned engineering experts as witnesses for its case: William Jacobs, who holds a doctorate in nuclear engineering, and Oral Buyukozturk, a civil and material engineering professor at MIT who is a leading authority on concrete.

In addition, Kelly said his office, led by Charles Rehwinkel, associate public counsel, has collected testimony from dozens of people related to the case and reviewed millions of pages "morning, afternoon and night."

Cindy Muir, a commission spokeswoman, said the PSC believes it can schedule two weeks of hearings in August and is currently working to do so.

The commission had scheduled five days in June for the hearing to determine whether Progress Energy acted reasonably and prudently when it replaced old steam generators at the Citrus County nuclear plant.

During the project, the 42-inch-thick containment building that houses the nuclear reactor cracked. After the crack was repaired, the building cracked two more times. Progress has said it will cost at least $2.5 billion to repair the plant and purchase alternative electricity while it remains offline. The utility believes insurance will cover about three quarters of the costs but wants its 1.6 million Florida customers to pay the rest.

For Progress to be able to pass those costs onto customers, the commission must affirm that the utility's handling of the project was prudent and reasonable.

Customers paid $110 million in 2010 for money Progress spent to buy alternative electricity and will pay $140 million this year. That money would be refunded if the PSC determined Progress' actions were not prudent.

Ivan Penn can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 892-2332. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Consumers_Edge.

Comments
GasBuddy predicts plunge in summer travel, blames gas prices

GasBuddy predicts plunge in summer travel, blames gas prices

At least one gas price tracker expects rising fuel prices to sharply curtail summer travel. "For all those that have said summer travel will be unaffected by high gas prices, we offer thousands of respondents who have strongly indicated thatís not tr...
Updated: 21 minutes ago
Construction poised to begin this week on four-story boutique hotel in Ybor City

Construction poised to begin this week on four-story boutique hotel in Ybor City

TAMPA ó A ceremony marking the start of construction on a four-story, $32 million boutique hotel at 1402 E Seventh Avenue has been set for Thursday.The site is now a parking lot, but plans on file with the city of Tampa outline a hotel project with 1...
Updated: 2 hours ago
FPL parent wants to expand its Florida footprint with new purchase

FPL parent wants to expand its Florida footprint with new purchase

TALLAHASSEE ó The parent company of Florida utility giant Florida Power & Light announced Monday that it will buy the largest electricity producer in Northwest Florida, Gulf Power, in a $6.4 billion deal.Juno Beach-based NextEra Energy Inc. said in a...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Barack and Michelle Obama are becoming television and film producers for Netflix

Barack and Michelle Obama are becoming television and film producers for Netflix

Netflix announced a production deal Monday with Barack and Michelle Obama that will see the former first couple create a wide range of content for the streaming service.The deal, talks for which had first been reported in March, will encompass a wide...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Starbucks: You donít have to buy coffee to sit in our cafes or use our restrooms

Starbucks: You donít have to buy coffee to sit in our cafes or use our restrooms

Starbucks is now allowing people to use its restrooms and sit in its cafes and patios even if they do not buy anything.The coffee giant on Saturday announced its new policy, which says that customers, including those who did not make a purchase, can ...
Updated: 9 hours ago

Hernando Business Digest for May 25

Business digestBrieflyHOSPITAL UPGRADES SURGICAL SYSTEM: Oak Hill Hospital recently acquired the latest da Vinci Xi Surgical System, which has broader capabilities than prior generations of the system. The new system is designed with the goal of furt...
Published: 05/21/18
Camping without the hassle: New service rents you all the gear you need, plus the car

Camping without the hassle: New service rents you all the gear you need, plus the car

One day in April, I returned from a camping trip - a quick 24 out of the city - and ran a load of laundry. Whatís more telling is what I didnít do.I didnít hose down a muddy tent, I didnít soak a shoddily cleaned pot, and I categorically did not empt...
Published: 05/19/18
Romano: Save your money, sports betting wonít be in Florida anytime soon

Romano: Save your money, sports betting wonít be in Florida anytime soon

It is the middle of the day and the beginning of the off-season at Tampa Bay Downs. That means the action is limited to simulcast wagering, and that means the televisions outnumber the bettors.The parimutuel industry is long past its heyday in Americ...
Published: 05/19/18
Son of Crabby Billís founder leaves complex legacy of troubled projects and good deeds

Son of Crabby Billís founder leaves complex legacy of troubled projects and good deeds

SOUTH PASADENA ó Like his father, who founded the Crabby Billís seafood restaurant chain, John Loder Sr. had a larger-than-life personality. That was one reason he dived into the real estate business, becoming a well-known, if at times controversial ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Global Tampa Bay initiative seeks to grow direct foreign investment through expanded regional teamwork

Global Tampa Bay initiative seeks to grow direct foreign investment through expanded regional teamwork

TAMPA ó A decade ago, the Great Recession put Hillsborough and Pinellas countiesí efforts to grow their foreign exports on hold.But since then those efforts have returned, gained support and momentum, expanded the range of their ambition and are now ...
Updated: 11 hours ago