Monday, March 16, 2009

Florida House, Senate bills designed to promote nuclear & gas-fired power plant investment

For anyone at all interested in moving toward truly renewable sources of energy, in need of some serious public scrutiny are a pair of companion bills currently under consideration in the Florida House and Senate that are unabashedly "designed to promote utility investment in nuclear or integrated gasification combined cycle power plants and allow for the recovery in rates of all prudently incurred costs ..."

The bills -- House Bill 1101, sponsored by Rep. Peter Nehr (R-Tarpon Springs); and Senate Bill 1830, sponsored by Sen. Mike Fasano (R-New Port Richey) -- do contains some consumer-protection language that would result in refunds to customers when gas-fired or nuclear plants or related transmission lines and other facilities are not built.

But, of particular concern is language that at face-value would appear to enable automatic base rate increases to cover return on capital investment, based upon the last previous calculation of the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) and without additional review by the PSC:
"When the nuclear or integrated gasification combined cycle power plant is placed in commercial service, the utility shall be allowed to increase its base rate charges by the projected annual revenue requirements of the nuclear or integrated gasification combined cycle power plant based on the jurisdictional annual revenue requirements of the plant for the first 12 months of operation. The rate of return on capital investments shall be calculated using the utility's rate of return last approved by the commission prior to the commercial inservice date of the nuclear or integrated gasification combined cycle power plant."
Concerned citizens and environmental organizations need to examine these bills closely, especially considering that their proponents in the Florida House and Senate have been recipients of FPL PAC campaign contributions in the past.

Rep. Bill Nehr is a Republican who sits on the Florida House's Committee on Environmental Protection and the House's Economic Expansion and Infrastructure Council. According to the Florida Division of Elections Campaign Finance Database, Nehr received the maximum $500 in finance contributions in both of his 2006 and 2008 campaigns from FPL PAC and FPL Employees PAC. Such contributions are usually indicators of additional FPL-linked contributions from individual company employees and individuals linked to FPL partner companies, usually funnelled through FPL registered lobbyists in Tallahassee.

The powerful President Pro-Tempore in the State Senate, second only to Senate President Jeff Atwater in arm-twisting clout in the upper chamber, Fasano is also a member of the Senate's Communications, Energy, and Public Utilities committee. He has likewise been on the the receiving end of FPL PAC money, having matched Atwater's maxed-out combined contributions of $2,500 in FPL PAC monies in his 2002, 2003 and 2008 election campaigns.

House Bill 1101 can be read in its entirety online, here.

Senate Bill 1830, can be read in its entirety online, here.

To see who else in Tallahassee is on the FPL PAC "payroll," see Stop FPL's previous post, here.

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