Florida Consumer Advocate Appealing FPL Rate Increase

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Associated Press Release

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- The state's consumer advocate is appealing a base rate increase for Florida Power & Light Co. that could add nearly $10 to average monthly bills over the next four years.

Public Counsel J.R. Kelly filed a notice on Thursday that he will appeal to the Florida Supreme Court.

Kelly is challenging the Public Service Commission's approval of a settlement between the utility and groups representing commercial and federal government customers.

A key issue is whether Kelly's office, which represents all consumers, must be a party to any such agreement. It was the first time the commission has approved a settlement without the public counsel's participation.

Kelly contends it's a bad deal for most of FPL's 4.6 million customers. FPL says they'll all benefit from the company's improved financial outlook.

Tallahassee, FL - Electric rates are going up for thousands of Floridians under a 2006 law that allows major utilities to collect monthly fees in anticipation of constructing new nuclear plants, but there is no guarantee the plants will ever be built or the money refunded.

Duke Progress Energy and Florida Power and Light each want to construct two new nuclear plants. Duke asked regulators for $4.73 cents a month for permitting and planning costs. FP&L asked for a dollar sixty-five for every thousand kilowatts used.

AARP has been fighting the charges.

"It’s fundamentally unfair. We consider it actually outrageous that people are paying for a possibility of a nuclear power plant being build and frankly all the costs and all the risk is coming on the back of the consumer”, says AARP Spokesperson Charles Millstead.

AARP isn’t alone. The Florida Retail Federation says the monthly charges mount up for retailers. ” All costs for any kind of business whether a retailer or a law firm. When your costs go up, you have to pass it along to those who pay the bills. We don’t want to do that, but you don’t really have any choice”, says Rick McAllister, CEO Florida Retail Federation.

After hearing a case in October, the Florida Supreme Court is still considering whether the nuclear cost recovery is even constitutional.

Dwight Dudley was sworn in as a new House Member from Pinellas County last week. Repealing advanced nuclear costs was a key in his campaign. In one of his campaign videos, he stated “And I will repeal the nuclear fee”.

Both FPL and Duke Progress say that having customers pay up front will lower the costs later. “And new nuclear units in Turkey Point, we anticipate over the life of those units, would save fifty-eight billion dollars in fuel costs”, says Peter Robins, FPL/Next Era Energy

But AARP says that the plants coming on-line is a big “If”.

Associated Press Release

Tallahassee, FL (AP) - State regulators have approved requests from Florida's two largest electric utilities to continue passing future nuclear facility costs on to their customers in 2013.

The five-member Public Service Commission on Monday unanimously approved a decrease for Florida Power & Light Co. and increase for Progress Energy Florida.

FPL sought $151 million, which will be $1.69 per month for a typical residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt hours. That's 51 cents less than this year's nuclear cost recovery charge.

Progress will get $143 million. That will increase the current charge for a 1,000-kilowatt hour customer by $1.93 to $4.79 per month.

Utilities normally cannot pass on such expenses until new or renovated plants go into operation. State law, however, makes an exception for nuclear facilities to encourage that form of power generation

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