FPL defers request to charge consumers $22 million for new reactors

By Taryn Phaneuf | Jul 29, 2016

TALLAHASSEE – Florida Power & Light (FPL) will not raise rates in 2017 to pay for the long-term project of constructing two new nuclear reactors.

TALLAHASSEE – Florida Power & Light (FPL) will not raise rates in 2017 to pay for the long-term project of constructing two new nuclear reactors.

The Florida Public Services Commission granted FPL’s motion to defer its cost recovery request until 2017 earlier this month. FPL wanted to raise customer rates to bring in more than $22 million for the $20 billion project, which would not be collected until 2018 if approved next year.

Florida Sen. Anitere Flores, a Republican who represents parts of Miami-Dade County, told the Florida Record that the decision is good for FPL customers.

“It shows, in part, that the company is also looking at ways to save ratepayers money,” Flores said. “I think the (PSC) granting that request is a good thing for ratepayers at least in the short term and it’s something we’ll want to keep an eye on for the long term.”

In 2008, FPL asked for the go-ahead to construct two new nuclear reactors, numbers 6 and 7, at its Turkey Point facility. Every year since then, the company has requested cost-recovery for the project, which is still far from being constructed. Florida law allows utility companies to recover project costs ahead of completion of the project by raising rates. With the annual requests, the company is required to file a feasibility study assessing the continued viability of the project.

In April, FPL asked to recover upwards of $22 million from customers in 2017 but it didn’t file a new feasibility study. Instead, FPL asked the commission to waive the rule, which would exempt them from filing the study but still allow them to recover costs.

Attorneys for several groups, including the Florida Industrial Power Users Group, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and the city of Miami, objected to the request.

“There is great uncertainty and risk surrounding the completion of FPL's proposed Turkey Point 6 and 7 reactors. The project is complex and financially risky with all the financial risk being borne by its customers,” George Cavros, an attorney for SACE, said in a statement June 30.

He went on to say that the organization doesn’t object to FPL’s request to defer its cost recovery request for a year, however, “if the motion is approved, the burden remains on FPL to prove that any monies spent in pursuance of preconstruction activities were reasonable at the time they were made and based on a finding that the project is feasible, and that such costs were prudently incurred.”

FPL applied for a license from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for the reactors in 2009. A final environmental impact statement should be released in October. FPL officials have said the company expects approval for the license by late next year and projects the reactors will be in service in about a decade.

Flores said it’s important that FPL continue to divulge the feasibility of the project.

“At some point, they will have to make the argument that the project is feasible and I hope they go a step further that it’s not only feasible but it’s something they intend to do,” she said.

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