A St. Petersburg lawmaker wants the Florida Public Service Commission to study the cost of the proposed Levy County nuclear plant compared to a natural gas facility.
Rep. Dwight Dudley, D-St. Petersburg, said in a news release and letter to the commission this week that a Tampa Bay Times analysis that showed the Levy plant would cost more than a natural gas facility over 60 years warrants a comprehensive review by the state.
The Times analysis also showed that Duke Energy would make $4 billion from the Levy nuclear project compared to $369 million for an equivalent natural gas facility, according to the Times analysis.
"The main argument in favor of nuclear is that it is less expensive in the long run," Dudley stated in the letter. "If the Times findings are accurate — that a comparable natural gas facility would be around $3 billion cheaper over 60 years — then I would consider this notion to be thoroughly debunked."
Cindy Muir, a spokeswoman for the commission, said the PSC had not yet received any communication from Dudley.
Earlier this month, Rep. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, called on Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, the state's point person on energy matters, to study Levy's costs. Putnam, however, said his office did not have the resources for such a review and that the responsibility belonged to the PSC.
Fasano said in his request to Putnam that he believed any study by the PSC would be biased toward the utility companies rather than support the good of consumers.
Though Dudley asked for the PSC to study the issue, he too stated that the commission appears to favor the utility companies' wishes.
"If the PSC is supposed to be a watchdog for the ratepayers, I have yet to see it," Dudley wrote. "It's high time that this dog grow some teeth and start protecting the consumers. Even the slightest growl or whimper would be better than what we have now."
Ivan Penn can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 892-2332.