1. Florida Politics

Nuclear recovery fee needs to go, Gov. Scott

Published May 14, 2013

Not everyone believes in the warming of Rick Scott's heart.

While it is true he supported expanding Medicaid, critics point out that he was nowhere to be seen while zealots in the Florida House were voting it down.

And while it is fact he pushed for teacher pay raises, that didn't require much arm-twisting when dealing with a rare budget surplus.

So what's a conservative with a corporate image to do? Just how does Gov. Private Jet convince voters that he truly is a man of the people?

Two words:

Nuclear energy.

If you read Ivan Penn's revealing study of how expensive a nuclear plant is compared to a natural gas facility in Sunday's Tampa Bay Times, then you understand how silly it is that your elected officials continue to allow utility companies to pick your pocket.

And if the last legislative session taught us anything, it is that a majority of representatives in the House are either too dim or too consumed with campaign contributions to ask hard questions of electric company executives.

So what do you say, Gov. Scott?

Are you willing to fight for consumers?

Because, to be honest, you've been pretty quiet about an issue that should be right up your alley. You're the one who ran as a fiscal conservative. You're the one who promised to cut wasteful government spending.

And the reality is the nuclear cost recovery fee is basically a billion-dollar tax. The difference is it goes in the wallets of utility companies instead of the government.

The reporting and analysis by Penn made that pretty clear. Nuclear plants clearly cost more money in the short term, and potentially more money in the long run.

The only argument in favor of building a nuclear plant is diversifying a company's energy portfolio. And that argument doesn't hold up well when you consider how much it costs, how long it's been since anyone has built a nuclear plant, and how much of it is turned into profit for your electric company.

Since too many legislators have proven to be shills for the utilities, it is up to Scott to do something about it.

And, frankly, this is one of those moments when it should benefit Floridians that their governor is filthy rich. Because, even though Scott has accepted huge campaign donations from utility companies in the past, he really isn't beholden to their money.

So what can Scott do?

He can begin by blowing up the Public Service Commission. These people are supposed to be looking out for the public good, but they are basically a subsidiary of Duke Energy and Florida Power & Light. The commissioners owe their jobs to Scott, and he should make each one of them prove they are worthy of it.

After that, Scott should begin working on legislators. If he makes a big stink about this publicly, it will give lawmakers some political cover and it will go a long way toward convincing voters that he really does have their best interests at heart.

No one doubts that Scott is a champion for corporate interests. And that's fine when it translates into jobs and economic stimulus.

But in the case of nuclear power, it translates into profits for utility shareholders and lost wages for regular folks.

Want to be a man of the people?

Do something about that.


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