1. Florida Politics

Florida House rejects attempts to repeal nuclear fees

TALLAHASSEE — The Florida House on Tuesday rejected attempts to repeal a controversial state law that allows utility companies to charge customers for nuclear power plant development in advance of construction.

The Republican-led House modified SB 1472 to add new hurdles to the unpopular nuclear cost recovery act but voted down amendments that would have required the companies to disclose how much of the monthly bill was going into the planning costs among other amendments.

They also rejected an amendment to put the so-called "nuclear cost recovery act" to a voter referendum, an amendment that would ban any development on a nuclear plant until there is a permanent disposal site for nuclear waste, and an amendment to repeal the proposal.

The final bill is not expected to make any sweeping change affecting average customer bills in the short run. Progress Energy, which has been acquired by Duke Energy, and Florida Power & Light currently charge customers monthly to pay for their planning and development costs for two projected nuclear power plants.

Since the act took effect in 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 plant in Levy County. FPL customers have paid $500 million for improvements on existing plants and plans to build a new reactor at Turkey Point.

Rep. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, urged the House to reject the compromise language added to the House bill, saying it will allow utility companies to continue to profit from customers paying the nuclear fee even if the plant is never built.

"We weakened the bill,'' he said. "Now what do utility companies have to be concerned about?"

A final vote on the bill is expected later this week.