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Fla. senators eye changes in nuclear utility rates

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 21, 2013 at 4:14 pm •  Published: February 21, 2013

The senators' proposal also drew criticism from Florida Power & Light Co. The state's largest electric utility, FPL serves 4.6 million homes, businesses and other customers in South Florida and on the state's east coast.

The Juno Beach-based company issued a statement opposing any changes to the current law, contending it'll save consumers billions in the long run on fuel costs while creating thousands of jobs and helping Florida's economy.

"Those benefits aren't theoretical — they are real and happening now," the statement says.

FPL spokesman Mark Bubriski said in an email that FPL recently completed nuclear plant upgrades financed by the cost recovery clause, which are saving customers $7.5 million a month in fuel expenses. The typical residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt hours per month currently pays a $1.65 nuclear cost recovery fee.

A spokesman for Progress Energy Florida, which has 1.6 million customers in central and north Florida, did not immediate respond to a telephone message seeking comment.

Progress, recently purchased by North Carolina-based Duke Energy, has been charging nuclear cost recovery fees for upgrades to an existing plant at Crystal River and a new one planned for nearby Levy County.

Duke, though, has decided to close the damaged Crystal River facility, but the utility stands to earn a $50 million profit on the $500 million customers already have paid. Customers also have paid $1.5 billion for the Levy plant. Duke could earn $150 million if that project is not built.

The Senate plan drew measured praise from the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, a group that also advocates conservation and renewable power.

The group's lobbyist, Susan Glickman, commended the senators for taking on the issue and predicted once they examine the costs they'll "figure out that we really don't need this kind of nuclear power going forward."

Latvala will be co-sponsoring Legg's bill along with Sens. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, and Wilton Simpson, R-New Port Richey.