Sunday, September 23, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Duke Energy gives its customers a break

After years of forcing its customers to pay for its nuclear energy mistakes, Duke Energy Florida is doing the right thing and sparing its ratepayers from paying the final $150 million cost for the never-built Levy County nuclear plant. The deal means that Duke and its shareholders — not the ratepayers who have little choice but to buy its electricity — will cover the costs to close the books on this bad chapter. The change of heart, which should have occurred years ago, could help Duke repair its corporate image and become more customer-friendly. It's about time.

Duke says the savings will amount to about $2.50 a month for the average residential customer. That's good news, although Duke, serving 1.8 million Floridians, will still charge some of the highest rates in the state.

The settlement is part of a plan to move past nuclear and to emphasize solar energy. Although roughly 75 percent of Duke's electricity is generated by natural gas, it will add more than 700 megawatts of solar generating capacity in the next few years. As a consequence, the proportion of electricity that comes from coal-fired plants will continue drop to 20 percent or so.

Duke also emphasizes that it is segueing into a higher-tech future with smart meters that will automatically alert the power company when a customer has lost power. Those meters also will allow consumers to easily monitor their energy usage and adjust their behavior in much the same way that a smartphone can text an alert when a user is approaching a data cap.

While Tuesday's announcement is good news, don't forget that ratepayers have already spent $800 million on a nuclear plant that will never be built. Blame both Duke and a lapdog Florida Legislature for that waste of money. More than a decade ago, enabling legislators passed the nuclear cost-recovery act that allowed Duke and other power companies to collect money in advance for nuclear plants becoming operational or, in this case, for one that was never built. The fallout from this folly made Duke radioactive to many of its customers, a hard lesson it has now learned.

Even so, remember Duke customers still will be wrapping up final costs for the broken and closed Crystal River nuclear plant for the next two years. Now the utility is looking to an energy future that doesn't include nuclear but increasingly relies on renewables such as solar to provide clean energy to its Florida customers. More important, it should now recognize that those who reap the rewards — shareholders and others — should also be the ones to shoulder the risk. Duke can become a better corporate citizen by no longer expecting its customers to pay for its mistakes. "We feel like the cost of Levy being written off is a small price to pay for moving forward," said Duke's Florida president, Harry Sideris. Well said.

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Editorial: Florida needs uniform standards for voting by mail

Editorial: Florida needs uniform standards for voting by mail

Vote by mail has been a stunning success in Florida, increasing turnout and making it easy and convenient to cast a ballot with time to research and reflect. But a new study shows that mail ballots cast by African-American, Hispanic or younger voters...
Published: 09/21/18
Editorial: Borrowers need protection from Marlin Financial

Editorial: Borrowers need protection from Marlin Financial

State and federal lending regulations exist to protect consumers from being surprised — and overwhelmed — by ballooning debt. Marlin Financial, a shadowy auto lender doing business around Florida, seems to be skirting those protections ...
Published: 09/21/18
Editorial: Putnam hire stinks of patronage, secrecy

Editorial: Putnam hire stinks of patronage, secrecy

In addition to a lesson on political patronage, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam needs a refresher on the particulars of state public records law.In January 2017, Putnam hired the 27-year-old son of a former Publix executive to a high-pay...
Published: 09/20/18
Editorial: Investigate first, then hold Kavanaugh confirmation vote

Editorial: Investigate first, then hold Kavanaugh confirmation vote

There should be a timely investigation of the allegation of sexual assault against Judge Brett Kavanaugh before senators hear from him and his accuser, let alone vote on whether they should confirm his nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. The proces...
Published: 09/20/18
Editorial: Immigrants help to make America great

Editorial: Immigrants help to make America great

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Published: 09/19/18
Updated: 09/20/18
Editorial: FDA acts to keep e-cigarettes from kids

Editorial: FDA acts to keep e-cigarettes from kids

The federal Food and Drug Administration is bringing important scrutiny to the increasing use of e-cigarettes, requiring companies that make and sell them to show they are keeping their products away from minors. Vaping is the new front in the nation...
Published: 09/18/18

Tuesday’s letters: Honor Flight restored my faith in America

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Published: 09/17/18
Updated: 09/19/18

Editorial cartoons for Sept. 18

From Times wires
Published: 09/17/18
Editorial: Senate should delay vote on Kavanaugh

Editorial: Senate should delay vote on Kavanaugh

The Senate and the nation needs to hear more about the sexual assault allegation against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Setting aside Kavanaugh's judicial record, his political past and the hyper-partisan divide over his nomination, a no...
Published: 09/17/18
Editorial: Tampa council has another chance to show it takes Stovall House changes seriously

Editorial: Tampa council has another chance to show it takes Stovall House changes seriously

The Tampa City Council has yet to hear a compelling reason to allow a private social club in a residential neighborhood off Bayshore Boulevard, and a final meeting on the matter scheduled for Thursday offers the council a chance to show the diligence...
Published: 09/14/18