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FL GP opposes PSC approval of Nuclear Cost Recovery for Utilities, Call it “A License to Steal”

The Green Party of Florida (GPF) denounces the October 16 decision by the Public Service Commission allowing Progress Energy and Florida Power & Light to raise utility rates paid by their customers in order to collect hundreds of millions of dollars in so-called “nuclear cost recovery” funds.

Under an ill-conceived law approved by the Florida legislature in 2006 in Florida, private utility companies are allowed to collect funds, in the form of rate increases to their customers, to pay the advance costs for nuclear power plant construction. These funds can be collected even if the nuclear projects have not yet been licensed and approved by state and federal regulatory agencies, and if the projects are not approved. If the nuclear plants are canceled by the utilities for any reason, the corporations can pocket the millions they have fleeced from their customers, all with permission from the state.

Granting FPL and Progress Energy permission to raise utility rates to pay for risky and unnecessary nuclear plants is like giving them a license to steal,” said Michael Canney, GPF spokesperson and representative in a Petition to Intervene in the federal licensing process for the Levy County nuclear plant.Nuclear cost recovery is a form of corporate welfare designed to “fast track” nuclear power development and guarantee industry profits at the expense of the public interest. The PSC has become a rubber stamp for the nuclear power industry.”

Panagioti Tsolkas, Green Party member and co-chair of Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition said “This is the sort of collaboration between industry and government that spawns the corruption we are seeing surface across Florida. This vote is evidence that the ethics problems in the Public Service Commission (PSC) go much deeper than a few benign Blackberry messages or private jets. The PSC is putting the entire State in grave economic and environmental danger, and Governor Crist is encouraging it.” 

PSC Chair Matthew Carter has publicly expressed his hope that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission would view Florida’s approval of early nuclear cost recovery as a reason to expedite the federal  licensing process for new nuclear plants in the state. Carter said before the vote. “I think it’s a good law. Do I think it’s perfect? No, but we shouldn’t be buying gas from people that want to kill us.”

Steve Showen, co-chair of the Miami-Dade Green Party responded to Carter’s comments by saying, “The alternative to nuclear power is not, as  PSC Chair Carter says, ‘buying gas from people that want to kill us.’ If people really want to kill us, all they have to do is send a plane into a nuke plant!”

“Nuclear power is not clean, green or renewable, and it makes a mockery of Homeland Security, added Showen. “The truly secure and sane course of action for Florida is to put our resources into distributed rooftop solar. If the PSC had any real patriotic concern, it would have pulled the plug on nukes long ago.”

The GPF opposes the nuclear cost recovery scam as a form of private taxation that forces utility customers to invest millions in risky projects they may never see any benefit from.

“There should be a full investigation into the incestuous relationship between the PSC and the industries they are supposed to regulate,” said GPF co-chair Jayne King. “Greens believe state regulatory agencies should stop acting like lap dogs for greedy corporations and start protecting the public interest.”

In addition to opposing the nuclear cost recovery rip-off by Progress Energy and Florida Power and Light, the GPF has called for a moratorium on the construction of new nuclear plants in Florida, until a full and honest accounting of all costs associated with nuclear power can be assessed, and compared with the costs of investing in clean, safe and renewable energy technologies.

“We live in the ‘Sunshine State,’ ” says Jennifer Sullivan, a Green Party activist in Hernando County and co-petitioner in the challenge to the Levy nuclear plant license. “and one hour of sunlight that falls upon the earth has enough energy to power the whole planet for one year. We should be investing in cutting edge solar and renewable energy technologies for Florida’s communities, instead of subsidizing risky and expensive nuclear plants that produce radioactive wastes that are deadly for thousands of years.”

In February, the Green Party of Florida joined with the Nuclear Information and Resource Service and the Ecology Party to file a Petition to Intervene in the NRC licensing process for the Levy Nuclear Plant. The NRC’s Atomic Safety Licensing Board admitted a number of the petitioners’ contentions, and Progress Energy is required to respond to them before the Construction and Operating License application can be approved.

The Green Party supports investment in a sustainable, carbon-free, nuclear-free energy policy, based on clean, safe renewable energy technologies and aggressive conservation and efficiency measures. Nuclear and fossil fuel power plants are not a solution to the planetary climate change crisis, nor are they a smart solution to our future energy needs.

For more information:

*References on nuclear power:*

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