Thursday, May 24, 2018
Editorials

What Duke Energy, Legislature should do next

Duke Energy made the right decision to permanently close the broken Crystal River nuclear plant. Fixing the aging plant was not worth the cost, and at least now ratepayers probably will be paying for a new natural gas-powered plant with the latest technology. Now Duke should give up on building an expensive new nuclear plant in Levy County, and the Legislature should repeal a 2006 law that allows utility customers to be billed for nuclear projects that may never be built.

It has been more than six years since Progress Energy proposed building a new nuclear plant. Since then, the projected cost has jumped from $6 billion to $24 billion and rising. Florida also has endured a deep economic recession, slowing development. Demand for electricity remains stagnant, and ratepayers cannot afford to pay such an exorbitant price for more power when the projected demand is not nearly as high as it was expected to be when the nuclear plant was proposed.

Progress Energy also expected to have an investment partner in the Levy plant. But there have been no announcements, and it is difficult to imagine investors coming forward when demand for power has leveled off and the nuclear plant's construction cost has skyrocketed. Duke Energy, which acquired Progress Energy last year, operates nuclear power plants in other states but should think twice about building this one.

The Legislature should push Duke in the right direction by repealing the law allowing utilities to bill customers in advance for nuclear power projects. That may have been justifiable seven years ago, but it makes no sense in this economy. Progress Energy ratepayers already are on the hook for more than $1.1 billion in costs tied to a plant that may never be built, and the utility is expected to pocket $150 million of that total.

To their credit, House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, and Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Nice­ville, are willing to listen to those concerns. Reps. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, and Dwight Dudley, D-St. Petersburg, are among those fighting to repeal the law. They should be joined by other Tampa Bay lawmakers who want to ensure that their constituents are not saddled with even higher electric bills that would jeopardize the economic recovery.

Tuesday's announcement about retiring the Crystal River nuclear plant is no cause for celebration. Progress Energy customers still will pay a heavy price for this debacle, even with the agreement from the utility's insurer to pay $835 million. The pain will be particularly felt in Citrus County, which will lose hundreds of jobs and should be first in line to get the new natural gas power plant Duke Energy is expected to build. But the decision on the Crystal River nuclear plant is only the first logical step toward a broader discussion about energy in Florida and the Tampa Bay region. The next steps are to repeal the nuclear cost recovery law and give up on the fantasy of building a nuclear plant in Levy County that is unnecessary and unaffordable.

Comments
Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Legislation that waters down the 2010 Dodd-Frank law and was sent to President Donald Trump this week is a mixed bag at best. Some provisions recognize that Congress may have gone too far in some areas in the wake of the Great Recession to place new ...
Updated: 3 hours ago

Another voice: The chutzpah of these men

A new phase of the #MeToo movement may be upon us. Call it the "not so fast" era: Powerful men who plotted career comebacks mere months after being taken down by accusations of sexual misconduct now face even more alarming claims.Mario Batali, the ce...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/23/18
Editorial: Candor key step to restoring trust at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute

Editorial: Candor key step to restoring trust at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute

Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital has begun the important work of rebuilding trust with its patients and the community following revelations of medical errors and other problems at its Heart Institute. CEO Dr. Jonathan Ellen candidly acknowledges...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/23/18
Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Big Sugar remains king in Florida. Just three of the state’s 27 House members voted for an amendment to the farm bill late Thursday that would have started unwinding the needless government supports for sugar that gouge taxpayers. Predictably, the am...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

This is music to the ears. Members of the Florida Orchestra will introduce at-risk students to the violin this summer at some Hillsborough recreation centers. For free.An $80,000 grant to the University Area Community Development Corp. will pay for s...
Published: 05/17/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

In barely six weeks, President Donald Trump has gone from threatening to impose $150 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods to extending a lifeline to ZTE, a Chinese cell phone company that violated U.S. sanctions by doing business with Iran and North K...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Lots of teenagers are walking together this week in Hillsborough County, a practice they’ve grown accustomed to during this remarkable school year.We can only hope they keep walking for the rest of their lives.Tens of thousands of them this week are ...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

A state investigation raises even more concern about medical errors at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and the venerable St. Petersburg institution’s lack of candor to the community. Regulators have determined the hospital broke Florida law by ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/17/18