Activists plan rally in St. Pete against Duke Energy and nuclear advance cost recovery
A group of community activists are gathering in front of the Duke Energy headquarters in downtown St. Petersburg Saturday to raise support for an effort to end advance cost recovery fees. A law passed by the Florida legislature allows the utility company to charge customers for improvements to existing facilities or for new construction before a shovel even hits the ground. Frank Lupo organized the rally because the Public Service Commission is set to make a decision on a settlement that could cost rate payers big.
"They're about to, it's called a settlement, they're about to consider next week whether they should ok a proposed settlement the puts customers on the hook for $3.2 billion with a b and we have according to the Tampa Bay Times, 1.7 million new customers, you put 1.7 million into 3.2 billion that's $1900 per customer. They need to know that this is happening next week. We have a website, stopdukeripoff.org where we have the salient facts in bullet form and below it we have the phone numbers of all the Public Service Commission members and we're asking all customers within earshot to call them and tell them to vote against the proposed settlement."
You had mentioned that there was a minimum profit margin.
"Not only are we on the hook for $3.2 billion but the proposed settlement guarantees Duke a minimum annual profit of 9.5% a year for 5 years from 2014 to 2018. If they don't get that I don't think they're going to borrow the money from their brother-in-law, they're going to raise our rates even more. I believe the advance fee which authorizes them to take money has to be shown on the bill, but the advance fee also says that in order to do this their actions must be reasonable and prudent. It could be legal even under the advance fee law which we'd also like to see repealed. It's our opinion, just a group of customers who are trying to give voice to 1.7 million customers, that to take $3.2 billion out of the pockets of new customers without giving them anything in return since they've abandoned Crystal River, they're not going to repair that (?) and they've decided not to build the Levy plant, so we're actually paying all of this money for nothing and we'd like to see, but even if the advance fee holds we believe they violated the advance fee law, which we don't agree with, because they're actions were not reasonable or prudent which is the language under the advance fee law."
Tell us about the rally tomorrow. Where is it and what time should folks start showing up?
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"At the corner of 1st Avenue North and 3rd Street, that is the Duke Energy building. It begins at 11 AM and we're going to have a few guest speakers. We're going to have paper petitions, we're going to inform them that they can go online to stopdukeripoff.org and get the fact sheet and action plan with the Public Service Commission phone numbers and they also can sign an online petition. We're hoping, between the online petition and the paper petitions we're going to have about a thousand, we've only been doing this for about 11 days, but a thousand signatures we're going to send up by overnight mail to the Public Service Commission either on Saturday or Monday. We hope that they show up at 11 AM and if they haven't signed any petitions we'll have volunteers giving out papers on clipboards to add to the numbers that we already have."