Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Duke gets another sweetheart deal

The shuttered Crystal River nuclear plant continues to produce profits for Duke Energy rather than power for consumers. First Duke gets to keep $100 million that ratepayers coughed up for repairs that were so botched the plant had to be shut down for good. Now the utility gets to keep about 7 percent of another $100 million that customers will pay just to stabilize the plant before it is decommissioned. Call it roughly $7 million more in profit for Duke and salt in the wound that still feels raw to utility customers.

The news of the latest outrage involving the Crystal River plant comes as Duke officials are publicly explaining more about the decades-long effort to decommission the nuclear plant. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission will hold a hearing this week about that plan, which is expected to cost $1.2 billion over 60 years but not cost ratepayers additional money. The price tag is expected to be covered by an existing decommissioning fund. But it turns out that there is more work to be done just to stabilize the plant before the decommissioning.

As Tampa Bay Times staff writer Ivan Penn reported last week, Duke customers will have to pay some $100 million to shore up the nuclear reactor's concrete containment building. The public counsel's office, which represents ratepayers before the Public Service Commission, says a settlement agreement for the Crystal River plant always assumed some work would be required for the building to remain stable during the decommissioning of the plant. That was never clear when the agreement was announced last year and approved by the PSC.

It is tempting to blame the 2006 nuclear cost recovery law for this latest pickpocketing of Duke customers. That law enabled electric utilities to force ratepayers to pay for work to renovate or build nuclear plants even if the projects were botched — see Crystal River — or the plants were never built — see Levy County. Instead of repealing the giveaway, the Legislature only tweaked the law last year as public outrage grew over the closed Crystal River plant and price projections skyrocketed for the proposed Levy County plant that Duke canceled.

The real culprit here is last year's settlement between Duke Energy and the Public Counsel that was approved by the compliant PSC. That agreement is what enables Duke to collect roughly a 7 percent profit on the $100 million Crystal River project. It could have been worse, because Duke is generally entitled to 10.5 percent return on investment. That's no comfort to consumers, and it's another indication that the nuclear settlement is a bitter pill for consumers who will pay more than $3 billion for Duke's mistakes regarding the Crystal River plant and the proposed Levy County plant.

It's bad enough that consumers have to pay billions to Duke for two nuclear projects that will never generate a kilowatt of power. It's even worse that Duke gets to pocket millions in profits from their own mistakes. Where is the outrage in Tallahassee?

Comments
Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are traveling to the state capital today and declaring "never again.íí A prominent Florida Republican fundraiser vows he wonít raise another nickel until his party approves new gun controls. Across F...
Published: 02/19/18

Editorial: No more doubt about Russian meddling in election

The latest indictment by the Justice Department special counsel, Robert Mueller, refutes President Donald Trumpís claims that Russian interference in the 2016 election was a Democratic hoax. The indictment details the lengths Russian conspirators too...
Published: 02/19/18

Another voice: Tips should belong to workers, not their bosses

The Trump administration is under fire for proposing a Labor Department regulation that could result in hotel and restaurant employers dipping into the tips customers leave for their employees, depriving the nationís 14 million hard-working restauran...
Published: 02/18/18
Updated: 02/20/18
Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Itís not popular in Washington or virtually anywhere else these days to express concern about the rising federal deficit. Congressional Republicans who used to be deficit hawks first voted to cut taxes by $1.5 trillion over the next decade, then rais...
Published: 02/17/18
Editorial: Buckhorn should not appeal verdict in firefighterís case

Editorial: Buckhorn should not appeal verdict in firefighterís case

The city of Tampa should have taken Tanja Vidovic seriously from the start when the Tampa firefighter complained about her treatment in the workplace. Now that a jury and judge have spoken, itís time for City Hall to cut its losses, learn from its mi...
Published: 02/15/18
Updated: 02/16/18
Editorial: CareerSource troubles mount as public trust drops

Editorial: CareerSource troubles mount as public trust drops

The dark cloud enveloping Tampa Bayís job placement centers keeps growing. There are accusations of forged documents, evidence of nepotism and concerns about grossly inflated performance numbers that could be tied to receiving more public money and b...
Published: 02/15/18
Updated: 02/16/18
Editorials: Prayers and platitudes after shootings arenít enough

Editorials: Prayers and platitudes after shootings arenít enough

Even before the victims of another mass shooting at another public school were identified, Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, state legislators and members of Congress rushed to South Florida or to social media to offer their thoughts and p...
Published: 02/15/18
Editorial: DCF review should get to the bottom of Hillsborough foster care issues

Editorial: DCF review should get to the bottom of Hillsborough foster care issues

The Florida Department of Children and Families is right to call for a timely and "comprehensive" review of Hillsborough Countyís foster care system. Though the probe is a reaction to a recent case involving a child who was left unattended, the revie...
Published: 02/14/18

A Washington Post editorial: Modernize 911 calling before it becomes an emergency

This Friday marks the 50th anniversary of the first 911 emergency call placed in the United States. Since then, uncounted lives have been saved and people helped. It has been a great accomplishment of government.But even as an estimated 240 million 9...
Published: 02/13/18
Updated: 02/14/18
Editorial: Scott, Cabinet cannot be trusted on felonsí voting rights

Editorial: Scott, Cabinet cannot be trusted on felonsí voting rights

Gov. Rick Scott always has been grudging and imperious about restoring the voting rights of felons, requiring them to wait for years before begging the governor and Cabinet to be recognized again as citizens. That arrogance is on full display in a le...
Published: 02/13/18