Progress Energy nuclear plant
Paying in advance is unthinkable
First of all, I am a great proponent of nuclear energy. I have been in the energy industry for 40 years, working for a major architect-engineering firm designing and managing the construction of plants using nuclear, fossil and other energy sources. All of these power plants have been financed by the private sector, normally through bond issues, except for some government-funded sources such as the REA (Rural Electrification Authority) through loans or loan guarantees.
To charge consumers in advance for the cost of construction of a power plant is unheard of. What were the legislators thinking when they allowed this? These nuclear plants may not go on line for eight to 10 years or longer. Furthermore, no nuclear power plant has ever come in on budget, therefore the monthly billing cost to the consumer will definitely increase.
Lastly, all the people who will be paying for the plant and have died or moved away will never reap the benefits of the supposedly lower electricity rates. Will they get a rebate?
The status of our current economy would welcome a bond issue to cover the cost of these plants and be a much better and safer investment than other corporate stocks.
Robert Furletti, Clearwater
Ignorant critics limit energy supply
Thirty years ago, America had a giant lead in the nuclear power business. Westinghouse, among others, had the engineering know-how, the research and manufacturing capacity to build the best and safest reactors in the world. Challenges facing the industry centered mostly on the ignorance of its critics; the real issue of where to dispose of spent fuel rods existed but was a clearly manageable matter.
Then, influenced by a loose coalition of journalists, Hollywood actors and rock singers, a vast number of Americans started worrying about the dangers of nuclear power generation.
Today, almost two generations after America decided to essentially abandon its huge investment in nuclear energy, there is still a vast industry devoted to producing reactors, nuclear materials, weapons and nuclear fuel for power plants — it's just not happening here very much. Safe disposal of nuclear waste is still an ongoing debate in the United States, but countries in Europe, the Pacific Rim and Asia have highly productive and safe nuclear reactors producing cheap and clean electric power.
American utility companies continue to use the nuclear plants they built in the '60s and '70s, but litigation and misguided government restrictions have all but ended the erection of new facilities here. Americans are more than ever at the mercy of foreign oil producers.
Jim Parker, Lakeland
Taking the sting out of power bills | Jan. 5, editorial
In an alternate reality
If I wanted to build a bread factory, could I charge my potential customers a surcharge to build it? And after I start selling the bread, could I keep the profits? Or would I have to find investors and sell them stock to build the factory, and then pay them dividends on the profits? Is Progress Energy going to pay back its customers who paid to build this nuclear power plant? Will we see dividend checks from the profits?
My guess is that we will we not see a reduction in our electric bills, but will face another surcharge to maintain the plant after its built. Maybe I just don't get how it works in the other real world.
Charles Barlet, Largo
Share the ownership
The state of Florida has given Progress Energy approval to force its customers to pay for power plant construction, in advance, by assessments on monthly bills. As Progress Energy customers, we have no choice in the matter. We also get nothing for our money except hopes of lower electric rates sometime in the future.
I have an idea that, while not solving the problem for consumers, will make it more palatable. Since we are, in reality, being forced to make contributions to the equity capital of Progress Energy, the state should also require that Progress Energy issue to us, each month, shares of common stock in the company on whatever fractional basis is necessary to match the current price and amount charged on our bills. Dividends would be paid to these shares at the same rate as to any other shares of common stock. This stock should also be available for trade on the open market.
I think that this is a reasonable plan and would hope that Gov. Charlie Crist will work to support such action. It is a way for the state to work for the consumer for a change!
Bill Balmer, Seminole
Good: We use less gas. Bad: A possible new tax | on Jan. 3, story
Mileage tax is madness
George Bush was right about one thing: We are addicted to petroleum. Witness the proposal that instead of a gas or carbon tax, we tax by the mile.
A mileage tax would charge a Prius the same per mile as a Hummer, even though a Hummer burns a lot more gas. This would fail to encourage people to buy cars with better mileage, and thus fail to bring market forces into play for technological improvement. But at least people could afford to drive their SUVs a little bit longer — by being subsidized by the rest of us.
Strangest of all, addiction enablers in Oregon have allegedly shown that it is feasible to install a GPS unit in each car to track mileage. Proponents say that corporations and governments would have no access to travel data (yeah, right).
Enough of this nonsense. It is not travel we need to discourage, it is gas guzzling. It is time we kicked the habit and that means taxing gas or carbon.
Gregory McColm, Temple Terrace
Neighbors fear diocese's homeless plan Jan. 4, story
The residents of East Lake Park, and their "unofficial mayor," disgust me. Their opposition to the proposed homeless "tent city" the Catholic diocese plans for the property on East Hillsborough Avenue and Harney Road can be described in no other way than inhumane.
It amazes me that the general populace complains about the problem of homelessness, yet when an organization like the St. Petersburg Diocese of the Catholic Church comes along with a plan to help, we oppose it like it's the plague.
The bottom line is homelessness is a problem, and it doesn't matter where this "tent city" goes. The problem will remain until more organizations and people like the diocese try to tackle the problem head-on. They don't need the opposition of a community that seems hell-bent on opposing anything remotely good for the community.
I live about 3 miles from the proposed site. I frequent most of the restaurants and businesses along that section of Hillsborough Avenue and I see absolutely no problem with the diocese's plan as long as it meets the county requirements for the site.
Will Young, Tampa
Virginity pledges under scrutiny | Jan. 3, story
No one cares
Why all the space in the paper given to virginity pledges? No one cares about virginity anymore and everyone seems to accept that teens are having unprotected sex and are fine with it.
Look at the daughter of Sarah Palin. She had unprotected sex and got pregnant, and the conservatives lined up to protect her as if she had done nothing wrong. If conservatives are backing unwed sex, then we all need to forget about virginity pledges and just accept this as an inevitability of life.
J. Scott Hoffman, St. Petersburg
Ball drops, then first baby | Jan. 2, story
Nothing to celebrate
So we should be excited that the Tampa Bay area's first baby was born to a 16-year-old girl and her 18-year-old boyfriend?
Have they even finished high school? I don't see anything to celebrate in that relationship. I do hope there are family members who will do their best to provide a stable upbringing for that child.
Glenda Pittman, St. Petersburg