Saturday, January 20, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Getting power customers some relief

Four state senators from Tampa Bay acknowledged Thursday the flaws in a 2006 state law that allows power companies to charge ratepayers in advance for nuclear plants that may never be built. They proposed some helpful changes but stopped short of calling for the law to repealed. Still, this is progress and signals the best chance yet that Duke Energy customers may get some needed relief.

Republican Sens. John Legg of Lutz, Jack Latvala of Clearwater, Jeff Brandes of St. Petersburg and Wilton Simpson of New Port Richey have not yet submitted their legislation. They explained in broad terms their plan to change the law so that companies that fail to build a promised nuclear plant cannot profit from the process, or if they do, the profit margins are smaller. If a nuclear plant is not built, the electric company would return to ratepayers any profit, not actual construction costs. The 2006 law might expire two or three years from now, unless Duke Energy or Florida Power & Light, the two companies that have taken advantage of the law, have begun constructing a nuclear power plant.

That's a start to reforming a law that could cost Floridians' billions of dollars with still no guarantee their investments will pay off. Earlier this month, Duke Energy announced it would abandon the broken Crystal River nuclear plant, where ratepayers have already spent $500 million for upgrades. It also remains highly uncertain if Duke will build a proposed nuclear plant for Levy County, whose cost has jumped from $5 billion to $24 billion — and consumers are already on the hook for about $1.5 billion.

The senators said they don't want to repeal the law because they don't want to give up on nuclear power. But the future may already be here. Recent innovations in drilling for natural gas have dramatically lowered prices, and the utilities' inability to find private investors for nuclear plants — even as they shift significant costs onto consumers — speaks volumes about the economic viability of new large-scale nuclear plants.

The senators' plan isn't perfect, but it's a reasonable start. The rest of the Florida Legislature should get on board.

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Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

The death last fall of a 20-year-old Florida State University fraternity pledge revealed pervasive dangerous behavior within the school’s Greek system. Andrew Coffey, a Pi Kappa Phi pledge, died from alcohol poisoning after an off-campus party, and a...
Published: 01/19/18

Editorial: Confronting racial distrust in St. Petersburg, one conversation at a time

The St. Petersburg Police Department’s heavy presence in Midtown on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the community animosity it stirred have raised a familiar, troubling question: Can St. Petersburg’s racial divisions ever be reconciled?That big ideal ...
Published: 01/19/18
William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

A surge of Democrats seeking local legislative offices and hoping for a "blue wave" in the 2018 election continued last week, led by Bob Buesing filing to run again versus state Sen. Dana Young, R-Tampa.In addition:• Heather Kenyon Stahl of Tampa has...
Published: 01/19/18
Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

The smiles, applause and at least one hug belied the grim impetus for a gathering last week at a neighborhood center in Tampa — the Seminole Heights killings.The Tampa Police Department held a ceremony to thank those who helped in the investigation t...
Published: 01/19/18

Editorial: State’s warning shot should get attention of Hillsborough schools

The state Board of Education hopefully sent the message this week with its warning shot about the slow pace of the turnaround at Hillsborough County’s low-performing schools.The board criticized the school system for failing to replace administrators...
Published: 01/18/18
Updated: 01/19/18
Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

The Florida Legislature’s abrupt move to strip the University of South Florida St. Petersburg of its hard-earned separate accreditation and transform it back into a satellite of the major research university lacks detail and an appreciation for histo...
Published: 01/18/18

Another voice: Self-dealing by nursing home owners threatens patient care

The outsourcing of logistical support services, which became commonplace in the U.S. military in the 1990s and later was adopted by state prison systems, has now come to dominate the nursing home industry. And while nursing homes, unlike the military...
Published: 01/17/18
Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Three years into a crisis with its sewer system, St. Petersburg has a dandy new idea for dealing with the environmental fallout of dumping dirty water into the aquifer. Instead of committing to banning the outlawed practice, a consultant suggested th...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18
Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

A substitute teacher at a Plant City elementary school berated a class of fourth graders — and then the school principal. Another compared a student to a stripper. Others were caught napping, hitting children, making sexual remarks, giving students b...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18
Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

For the longest time, injured workers in Florida were basically at the mercy of the whims of employers to treat them fairly. A 2003 law aimed at reducing the cost of workers’ compensation coverage for businesses had the desired impact, but it also di...
Published: 01/16/18