Monday, December 11, 2017
Politics

In search of a caped (Senate) crusader on nuclear fee

So, who wants to be the hero?

Who wants to be the state senator who proposes the legislative bill that will stop power companies from charging real money for theoretical nuclear energy?

How about you, Sen. Jeff Brandes?

In your recent campaign, you talked about bringing change to Tallahassee. You supported lowering taxes and standing up to big government. You asked whether we serve the system, or the system serves us.

Based on that type of rhetoric, this issue should be right up your alley.

Because, when they approved the nuclear cost recovery law in 2006, our state politicians sold us out. They covertly passed all the risk of building nuclear power plants on to the backs of consumers.

And that wasn't even the worst part.

As a bonus, they essentially told utility companies they had zero accountability for our money. They didn't even have to build the facilities they were supposedly charging us for.

So, who wants to be the reformer?

How about you, Sen. Jack Latvala?

When Senate President Don Gaetz recently suggested that a lawmaker from Tampa Bay should file a bill to have this law examined, you seemed to be the obvious candidate.

There's not a state legislator in this market with more power or respect. People listen to you in Tallahassee. Both sides of the aisle seem willing to work with you.

And, frankly, this issue shouldn't even be that hard to push these days. No one really believes the Levy County nuclear project will even be built.

Its value has been debated, delayed and pretty much debunked. Not even Duke Energy's CEO was able to offer much rationale for the plant a few months ago.

The original cost for the project was $5 billion. The latest proposal is more than $24 billion. It's a complete fantasy, and we're the ones paying for the fairy dust.

So, who wants to right a wrong?

How about you, Sen. John Legg?

You voted for the nuclear cost recovery fee when you were in the House in 2006. Now, obviously, that doesn't mean you are completely responsible. The House approved it 119-1. The Senate passed it 39-0. Even your Pasco County compatriot Mike Fasano voted for this ridiculous legislation in 2006.

But here's the rub: Fasano has manned up.

He's admitted his mistake and has been one of Tallahassee's loudest voices when it comes to defending consumers. Fasano has been pushing for a repeal of the nuclear fee for years, and is a co-sponsor of a bill sitting in the House.

So, who wants to stand up to the power companies?

How about you, Sen. Arthenia Joyner or Sen. Wilton Simpson or any of the other three dozen or so members in that legislative body?

Yes, this has been a more relevant issue in Tampa Bay than other parts of the state, but eventually every utility company is going to figure out a way to join this gravy train.

House Speaker Will Weatherford has already suggested he is amenable to a change in nuclear cost fees. Gaetz has expressed his willingness, too.

The time is right for someone in the Senate to follow the House's example and push a bill that would stamp out fictitious nuclear spending.

So, who wants to end this nonsense?

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