Saturday, December 16, 2017
Opinion

PSC chairman: Duke Energy settlement in best interests of all

As the chairman of the Florida Public Service Commission, I know that some of my decisions don't please all parties. But they do follow the statutes and balance the interests of the customers, other interested parties and companies, which is my charge as a commissioner.

Along with my fellow commissioners, I wrestled with the Duke Energy Florida settlement for the past 2½ months. My decision last week to approve a revised settlement agreement for Duke Energy was one of the toughest during my time at the commission, but I know it is in the best interest of all parties.

For the past several years, the events surrounding the upgrade of Duke's Crystal River 3 nuclear plant have continually weighed on my mind. While the resolutions in the revised settlement are not ideal, I know that these certainties are better than the unknowns without the settlement in place. Years of potential litigation, while customers continued to pay for not only CR3 but also the proposed nuclear project in Levy County, could have resulted in even higher customer rates.

The parties to the settlement, including the Office of Public Counsel (appointed by the Legislature as the voice for ratepayers, most of whom are residential), as well as representatives for small businesses, larger retailers, manufacturers and the utility, agreed that the revised settlement was the best resolution for all customers and the company for Duke's nuclear projects. Under the settlement, Duke Energy customers receive approximately $1.5 billion in credits and refunds, and customer expenditures are capped at approximately $1.5 billion for CR3. Duke Energy shareholders will pay $295 million toward CR3's remaining costs, a first for a Florida utility, and plans for the Levy project are terminated, saving customers and the company billions of dollars.

This case garnered a lot of public attention, and I want to assure all who are interested in this issue that commissioners listened and considered the hundreds of comments received via email, telephone and during public comment before the hearing last week. Due to the technical nature of the information that we are obligated to consider, public testimony is historically not a factor in these types of proceedings. However, I knew that it was important to hear from those who had traveled to attend the hearing. I heard your concerns. Indeed, I have family who are Duke Energy customers.

A revered former secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, once said, "A good definition of an equitable settlement is one that will make both sides unhappy." The Duke Energy revised settlement fits that definition. It's an equitable settlement that is in the best interest of all parties.

Ronald Brisé is chairman of the Florida Public Service Commission. He wrote this exclusively for the Tampa Bay Times.

Comments

Editorial: Warren’s smart approach on guns, domestic violence

Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren would make it safer for victims and police alike with his plan to remove firearms from defendants charged with domestic violence. These cases are toxic enough, and having guns at the ready only adds to a dang...
Published: 12/15/17
Editorial: St. Petersburg council right to reject Bayfront deal

Editorial: St. Petersburg council right to reject Bayfront deal

The St. Petersburg City Council made the difficult but correct decision this week to reject the proposed sale of a local nonprofit’s minority stake in Bayfront hospital. Despite months of negotiations, there were too many questions, a few suspicions ...
Published: 12/15/17
Editorial: Congress should fix flood insurance, children’s health insurance before Christmas

Editorial: Congress should fix flood insurance, children’s health insurance before Christmas

Here’s a snapshot of misplaced priorities in Washington. Last week, the Federal Communications Commission foolishly rushed to scrap net neutrality rules and allow internet service providers to treat different content differently despite overwhelming ...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: Scott’s smart changes to sexual harassment policy

Editorial: Scott’s smart changes to sexual harassment policy

With misconduct allegations rippling through all levels of government, Gov. Rick Scott has taken the prudent step of ordering uniform sexual harassment policies throughout state agencies. The executive order strengthens protections for victims, which...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: MOSI faces a clean slate and should give everyone a piece of chalk

Editorial: MOSI faces a clean slate and should give everyone a piece of chalk

For three years, the only news about finances at Tampa’s Museum of Science and Industry was bad news: "Struggling MOSI asks Hillsborough County for $400,000 loan," one headline read, "Audit sees MOSI finances slipping," read another, and "MOSI donor ...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

For once, it would be nice to see Sen. Marco Rubio stand up as the independent leader he aspires to become. For once, the Florida Republican should hold his position rather than bow to pragmatic politics. Rubio can stick with his threat Thursday to v...
Published: 12/14/17

Another voice: A shameful anniversary

Josephine "Joey" Gay should have celebrated her 12th birthday this week. She should have been surrounded by friends and family in a place festooned with purple, her favorite color.Chase Kowalski should have been working toward a Boy Scout merit badge...
Published: 12/13/17
Updated: 12/14/17
Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Timing is everything, and Sen. Bill Nelson seized the right moment this week to call on his colleagues to pass legislation he filed earlier this year that would block the Trump administration from opening additional areas to offshore drilling. With t...
Published: 12/13/17

Another voice: Alabama picks an honorable man

THANK YOU, Alabama.In Tuesday’s special election, the state by a narrow margin chose to spare the nation the indignity of seating an accused child molester in the U.S. Senate. Though the stain of electing Republican Roy Moore would have sullied Alaba...
Published: 12/12/17
Updated: 12/13/17
Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

As congressional negotiators hammer out the details on an enormous, unnecessary tax cut, the potential negative impact on Tampa Bay and Florida is becoming clearer. The harmful consequences stretch far beyond adding more than $1.4 trillion to the fed...
Published: 12/12/17