Doubling Down on Nuclear Energy

By: Troy Kinsey Email
By: Troy Kinsey Email

Tallahassee, Florida- September 11, 2012

It's an ambitious plan to stake Florida's energy future on nuclear power.

Together, Progress Energy and Florida Power and Light want to hike rates by nearly 300-million dollars.

The money would go toward building new reactors, not to mention repairing one in Crystal River that's been shut down for three years.

It'll be up to the public service commission to approve the rate increases, and at a hearing today in Tallahassee, the companies made what FPL's Mark Bubriski calls a 'no-brainer' of a case.

"Nuclear power is cost effective, the fuel costs are very low, it has zero emissions and it helps us deliver reliable power around the clock, so we think it's an important investment," said Bubriski.

But it's also an investment in a risky technology.

A fact underscored by the meltdown of a reactor in Fukushima, Japan, last year, leading countries around the world to re-think whether nuclear power is safe.

With the debate over the feasibility of nuclear energy itself radioactive, the idea of charging you more now for a project that may never be completed is encountering a contentious headwind.

Progress Energy customers would have to pay an average of nearly five dollars a month to cover the nuclear projects FPL customers - 1.65 a month.

Under Florida law, it's money they would never get back - not even if the nuclear reactors never come on-line.

That's a possibility critic Jon Moyle says is growing more likely by the day.

"It needs to be cost-effective and affordable, and we have concerns that it seems that a lot of the nuclear power that's being requested, the costs are going up and the time keeps going out," said Moyle.

But, all the while, Florida's population is growing, too along with a growing demand for energy.

It may take flipping the switch on nuclear to keep up.

The public service commission is set to vote on the nuclear rate increases in November.

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