Duke Energy Petitions To Continue Charging Customers For Abandoned Nuclear Plants

Aug 1, 2014

Cavros says Duke Energy's discontinued construction of two nuclear power plants in Levy County and the closing of a nuclear plant in Crystal River (pictured) has cost customers billions of dollars.
Credit Nuclear Regulatory Commission via Flickr

Two Florida energy companies are petitioning regulators to charge customers to cover the costs of building nuclear power plants. The Florida Public Service Commission will address the issue at public hearings starting Monday.

Last August, Duke Energy halted construction of two nuclear plants in Levy County after charging customers more than $1 billion to cover construction costs. Now, the company is asking to continue charging customers for unrecovered costs from that project.

Southern Alliance for Clean Energy Florida Policy Attorney George Cavros says it’s not fair to customers.

The company is not building any new projects,” he says, “but in fact recovering from projects that it has either canceled or retired.”

Under Florida’s 2006 Nuclear Cost Recovery law, energy companies can charge customers an “advance fee” to build nuclear power plants. But Duke Energy halted construction on the plants a year ago. Cavros says customers have already been charged enough for the nuclear projects.

“That cancelation, along with another retirement of an upgrade of an existing plant that also went bad, has left Duke Energy customers on the hook for over $3 billion,” he says.

Representatives from Duke Energy did not respond to interview requests by this story’s deadline.

The Florida Legislature made it harder last year for utilities to collect the advance fee from customers, but companies can still do so with approval from the Public Service Commission.

Florida Power & Light is also petitioning for cost recovery for planned nuclear facilities, but Cavros says their opening date has already been delayed at least four years.

“The reactors continue to be pushed back in time, they are speculative projects at best, and the company continues to recover dollars from rate payers,” he says.

The Public Service Commission will address both petitions at public hearings at Tallahassee’s Betty Easley Conference Center starting Monday at 1 p.m.