FPL nuclear reactor costs deferred until 2018
By the end of this year, Florida Power & Light Co. customers will have paid roughly $282 million for costs related to two new nuclear reactors that might never be built. The company had sought approval to charge customers another $22 million next year.
But on Thursday, the utility and regulators gave customers a reprieve. The Florida Public Service Commission granted FPL’s request to defer the nuclear cost recovery approval until 2017.
If approved next year, the $22 million would not be collected until 2018. Customers who use 1,000 kilowatt hours a month are paying 34 cents in nuclear fees each month this year, but next year will pay zero, FPL spokesman Peter Robbins said Thursday.
FPL, headquartered in Juno Beach, had also asked to be exempt from a required analysis to determine whether the $20 billion nuclear project proposed for its Turkey Point nuclear plant in Homestead still makes economic sense.
In May, attorneys for the Office of Public Counsel, the Florida Industrial Power Users Group, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, the City of Miami and others objected to FPL’s exemption request.
Now FPL plans to provide the feasibility study next year.
SACE Florida Energy Policy Attorney George Cavros said in a statement Thursday: “It is clear that FPL could not prove this year that its proposed nuclear reactors were a good deal for customers. It’s good news that customers will not be throwing away another $22 million dollars of good money after bad, but the burden remains on FPL in future proceedings to prove that any dollars spent on the project were based on a feasibility analysis.”
But FPL spokesman Robbins reiterated the utility still plans to move ahead with the project. “FPL continues to pursue the federal and state approvals necessary to create the opportunity to build new nuclear units at Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant,” he said. “We believe there is tremendous value for our customers in FPL having the option to proceed with new, reliable, emissions-free nuclear energy.”
Power companies seeking to recover costs from their customers in advance for new nuclear power generation projects have been required to submit a feasibility study to prove that continued investment in the reactors is a good deal for customers, SACE said. This requirement is especially important as the controversial 2006 early cost recovery law shifted all the financial risk of construction activities from shareholder to customers.