Clean energy group calls on PSC to deny "nuclear cost recovery" fees

08/19/10 Kate Bradshaw
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A clean energy alliance is urging the Public Service Commission to deny two utility companies’ requests to make consumers pay for nuclear plants that haven’t been built. Two utilities hope for another $200 million in these fees, which the alliance calls unfair.

Right now, Progress Energy customers pay almost $7 a month in nuclear cost recovery fees. Part of what’s collected funds improvements at the Crystal River nuclear plant. But the lion’s share pays for a project that hasn’t even broken ground. At a teleconference today, Stephen Smith, Executive Director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, said the proposed Levy County facility may never be built.

The half a billion dollars Smith referred to is the total amount of nuclear cost recovery fees the energy giants will have collected so far if the PSC approves the request. Smith said this is a bold move, considering that both the Levy County facility and Florida Power & Light’s Turkey Point project are both at least ten years from going online, if they get built at all.

Progress Energy is still waiting on a license from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which last year said the facility design was flawed. Mark Cooper is a senior fellow for economic analysis at the Institute for Energy and the Environment at Vermont Law School. He said that’s not the only thing that should stall construction of another nuclear power plant.

Smith said the real problem is that ratepayers – and not the utility – are being forced to risk their money.

Progress Energy Florida spokesperson Cherie Jacobs begs to differ.

Jacobs also said that the nuclear recovery rate on next year’s electric bills will be lower.

But Stephen Smith of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy said whether or not consumers pay $6.99 or $5.33 a month in these fees, consumers are paying for something that may never get built.

The Public Service Commission will hold hearings on the requests starting Tuesday. The commission expects a staff recommendation by September 30th and a vote by October 12th.

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