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SHERIFF NUGENT IS OWED AN APOLOGY

Budget tensions lead to spat Sept. 12 article

I am replying to the article in your paper about Commissioner Jeff Stabins and our sheriff, Richard Nugent.

Mr. Stabins, you owe our sheriff an apology in front of everyone that has supported you all these years. I am quite shocked that Mr. Stabins took it upon himself to put our sheriff down.

Commissioner Stabins, do you realize that our sheriff protects you and all of the people? He took an oath to protect. He is a man of good character and good morals.

Thank you, Commissioner David Russell, for speaking up. You are a man of excellent character.

The attacks must stop. Mr. Stabins, get your act together if you want support from the people you represent and pay your salary.

Nancy M. Wilson, Spring Hill

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In so many ways, power rate hikes are rotten deal - Sept. 15 guest column

Modest rate hikes pay off in future

Beginning in 2009, ratepayers are being asked to start paying for building new nuclear power plants that are scheduled to come on line in about 10 years. It has been argued that this is unfair because the ratepayers would not own anything. Speaking in the sense of bricks-and-mortar, this is absolutely true. However, the argument that these utilities would be raking in profits is simply not true.

If the Public Service Commission serves as intended, the cost savings that these plants will present should be passed on to consumers in the form of lower rates.

As a long-term investment, this plant should return the rate-payer's dollars in about the same period of time that it would take to collect the funds to build it.

The PSC currently reviews the annual profits of our utilities and limits that profit to about 10 percent return on investment. If the utility were to retain enough profit to pay for this project, with zero payout to the stockholders, it would eliminate any incentive for anyone to purchase stock in the company and hence, the company may cease to exist. Meanwhile, borrowing money from the issuance of bonds is all but impossible in the current bond market.

If current capacity meets demand, it would not seem wise to build excess capacity for anticipated future growth that may never happen. The utilities have agreed to shut down just as many outdated coal generators as new nuclear plants that come online. This means cleaner air for all Floridians. While some like to point to the potential contamination hazard of nuclear power, this industry has operated accident-free in Florida since its inception.

The same can't be said about fossil fuels, nor can we calculate the true cost to our state because of health-related issues from polluted air and groundwater Nuclear plants also reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

We must also consider that any excess capacity generated by these plants will be sold to out-of-state buyers, generating more income for the utility - income that the PSC will use to lower the cost to the homeowners.

There is an argument that Florida homeowners shouldn't have to pay for improvements in the power grid to attract business.

Some might argue that business should pay its own way, not realizing that it does. Unlike residential property taxes that are capped by Save Our Homes, business property taxes are not capped by this amendment and contribute more to public coffers per square foot than residential development. Businesses also pay higher utility rates than do homeowners, thus subsidizing homeowner electric costs. The power plants themselves are a business, creating many more good paying jobs for Florida.

Too many times in our state's history, we've seen growth outpace infrastructure. For once, for a small increase in rates, we have a chance to have infrastructure improvements that will prepare us for our future, one that will not be very bright without enough clean power.

Scott Factor, New Port Richey

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