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SENATE TIGHTENS OVERSIGHT OF NUCLEAR FEES

The Florida Senate on Thursday made minor changes to its plan to rework the unpopular nuclear fee on customer utility bills to tighten the oversight of the state's utility regulators and make other changes with an amendment by Sen. John Legg, R-Lutz. SB 1472 rewrites the nuclear cost recovery act enacted in 2006 that allows electric companies to impose pre-construction costs for nuclear projects. The amendment, added to the bill with no discussion, will give the Public Service Commission more discretion when reviewing the company's justification for continuing to collect the nuclear fees from customers. It also requires that if Progress Energy or Florida Power & Light fails to show that it has committed enough money to a new plant, or if its intent is unrealistic, it can't continue to collect the money. Since 2006, Progress Energy has charged customers more than $1 billion to expand the now-crippled Crystal River nuclear power plant and to start developing a new nuclear power plant in Levy County. The company terminated the Crystal River project but has kept $150 million of the money in profits from all its projects. Florida Power & Light collected $530 million from the nuclear fee and used the money to finance expansions to its existing power plants at Turkey Point and in St. Lucie County. It has also proposed building two new reactors at Turkey Point but has not obtained a permit to do it. Voter discontent with St. Petersburg-based Progress Energy Florida's troubled power plant has prompted four Tampa-area senators to take the more aggressive approach to revamping the law, although they have stopped short of repealing the proposal.

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World of Beer will leave Tampa Palms

It's last call for World of Beer in New Tampa. The bar at the Pointe shopping center in Tampa Palms is closing on Sunday. Co-owner Phillippe Theodore said the company had asked to reduce its rent but was not able to negotiate an amount with the landlord. The lease was not immediately up for renewal. "We were paying a lease payment that didn't make sense in that location,'' he said. The employees will be transferred to other World of Beers, including a location opening soon at 2878 Providence Lake Blvd. in Brandon. Another tenant will take over the site at 17004 Palm Pointe Drive, he said, without naming specifics. The New Tampa World of Beer opened in late 2009 and is the second Tampa Bay location to close. The St. Petersburg World of Beer at 5226 Fourth St. N closed last year. St. Petersburg has another location at 100 Fourth St. S downtown.

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Independent Bar opens 2nd location

The Independent Bar and Cafe, a popular hangout in Tampa's Seminole Heights, will open a second location in Clearwater today. Located in the former Brew Garden at 904 N McMullen-Booth Road, the Clearwater Independent will have 32 beers on draft, featuring a similar selection to that of the Tampa location - lots of continental European offerings - plus a small wine and bottled beer selection. There will be a large selection of canned beer in stock. The bar is laid out exactly like the Brew Garden, but there's space for live music, and they're adding a long bench at one end. There's also cafe-style seating on the front patio. For more information, see independentclearwater.com.

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