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Progress Energy to increase rates for nuclear costs

5:46 PM, Nov 26, 2012   |    comments
Crystal River Nuclear Plant/Courtesy Progress Energy
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The Florida Public Service Commission will allow Progress Energy to charge customers $143 million next year for future nuclear power costs.

On Monday, the commission approved a request from Progress to bill customers for construction costs at its proposed Levy and Crystal River nuclear power plants.

Progress Energy's plan will cost the average homeowner an extra $1.80 a month.

Florida Public Counsel J.R. Kelly, who advocates for consumers before the PSC, opposed the rate increase because Progress has not decided yet if it will repair the damaged Crystal River nuclear power plant.

"Any decision on the prudence and reasonableness of the management and the costs should be deferred until such time as a decision to repair or retire the plant is made because we think that would be the appropriate time then to determine if any of the past decisions were reasonable and prudent," said Kelly.

The Crystal River plant has been shut down since 2009. Workers damaged it during a repair job.

Rep. Mike Fasano of New Port Richey calls the commission's approval a poke in the eye to consumers.

"From the botched repairs in Crystal River to the long-term problems associated with siting Levy County's reactor, the customers may ultimately be paying for something that will never materialize. Even if years pass and one or both of these plants ever come online, the amount invested will take decades to be recouped. I fear that few who are paying the advance nuclear cost recovery fee today will ever benefit from their forced contribution towards these projects."

State law allows utilities to charge customers right now for future expenses on nuclear power plants. The law was intended to encourage more nuclear power in Florida.

Progress Energy, which has merged with Duke Energy, has 1.6 million customers in Florida.

First Coast News

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