Make us your home page
Instagram

There's a lot of gall in Duke Energy's latest move

Help me out here.

There has to be a perfect word to sum up the federal lawsuit Duke Energy filed last week seeking $54 million from Westinghouse Electric.

There has to be a phrase that accurately describes the splendid arrogance of a money-hoarding beast loudly complaining about someone else's ill-gotten windfall.

Now I've considered a few lewd descriptions, and some snotty ones, too. Yet none adequately sums up the shamelessness and audacity of Duke's claim.

I suppose, if you're going for a more basic description, you could argue "ironic'' is a fitting choice.

After all, Duke is suing Westinghouse to recover funds for (take a deep breath) work it says was never performed. This is sort of like the pot calling the kettle whack.

You might recall that Duke spent years talking about building a nuclear power plant in Levy County. Never mind that the rest of the world gave up on the idea years ago. Never mind that proposed costs made the project about as feasible as nagging Scotty for some of those dilithium crystals he used to power the Enterprise on Star Trek.

Duke just kept right on planning its fictitious plant, mainly because the Florida Legislature allowed the power company to continue charging customers for it.

By the time the plug was finally pulled, ratepayers had ponied up around $1.5 billion for (deep breath again) work that was never completed.

So, yeah, I suppose "ironic" might describe Duke's lawsuit.

You know what else might describe it? "Chutzpah." Or "gall." Or "brass."

Because, remember, the Levy County fiasco was not the only bogus work project of Duke's that you paid for in recent years.

There was also the infamous sure-we-can-fix-it debacle at the Crystal River nuclear plant. Back before Progress Energy merged with Duke, the power company decided a home remedy was the wisest choice to upgrade the facilities at Crystal River.

About $1.7 billion of your money later, Duke decided to junk that plant, too. No improvements, no power, no tangible benefits whatsoever. And, yet, you were still billed.

And now Duke wants Westinghouse to pay for work it never completed at the same Levy plant that Duke never completed? In legal terms, I believe this is called exculpatory bull.

Of course, the suit might simply be a pre-emptive strike by the energy company.

Days after Duke's trip to court, Westinghouse filed its own suit claiming the utility owes more than $512 million for costs associated with the Levy project.

Going on the offensive with its own lawsuit seems to fit Duke's corporate philosophy. This is a company that treats the state Capitol like a discount grocer, purchasing the loyalty of politicians from one campaign cycle to the next.

Need to keep the nuclear cost recovery fee intact? Buy a senator. Need to tamp down the enthusiasm for solar energy legislation? Buy a state representative. Need to have some reformer kicked out of the Public Service Commission? Buy a governor.

So it probably makes sense that Duke was flexing its economic muscles before Westinghouse even had a chance to find the court clerk's office.

When you think about it that way, perhaps there is only one way to describe Duke's brazen, tone-deaf and completely hypocritical lawsuit:

Predictable.

There's a lot of gall in Duke Energy's latest move 04/02/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 2, 2014 8:38pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Pinellas construction licensing board needs to be fixed. But how?

    Local Government

    LARGO –– Everyone agrees that the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board needs to be reformed. But no one agrees on how to do it.

    Rodney Fischer, former executive director of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board Rodney, at a February meeting. His management of the agency was criticized by an inspector general's report. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  2. New owners take over downtown St. Petersburg's Hofbräuhaus

    Retail

    ST. PETERSBURG — The downtown German beer-hall Hofbräuhaus St. Petersburg has been bought by a partnership led by former Checkers Drive-In Restaurants president Keith Sirois.

    The Hofbrauhaus, St. Petersburg, located in the former historic Tramor Cafeteria, St. Petersburg, is under new ownership.
[SCOTT KEELER  |  TIMES]

  3. Boho Hunter will target fashions in Hyde Park

    Business

    Boho Hunter, a boutique based in Miami's Wynwood District, will expand into Tampa with its very first franchise.

    Palma Canaria bags will be among the featured items at Boho Hunter when it opens in October. Photo courtesy of Boho Hunter.
  4. Gallery now bringing useful art to Hyde Park customers

    Business

    HYDE PARK — In 1998, Mike and Sue Shapiro opened a gallery in St. Petersburg along Central Ave., with a majority of the space dedicated to Sue's clay studio.

     As Sue Shapiro continued to work on her pottery in St. Petersburg, her retail space grew and her studio shrunk. Now Shapiro's is bringing wares like these to Hyde Park Village. Photo courtesy of Shapiro's.
  5. Appointments at Raymond James Bank and Saint Leo University highlight this week's Tampa Bay business Movers & Shakers

    Business

    Banking

    Raymond James Bank has hired Grace Jackson to serve as executive vice president and chief operating officer. Jackson will oversee all of Raymond James Bank's operational business elements, risk management and strategic planning functions. Kackson joins Raymond James Bank after senior …

    Raymond James Bank has hired Grace Jackson to serve as executive vice president and chief operating officer. [Company handout]