- Florida lawmakers are targeting Duke Energy Florida with legislation to rectify practices some say are picking the pockets of its 1.7 million customers in the state. Most contentious is Duke's "nuclear advance fee," which has allowed the company to collect a portion of the $3.2 billion cost of two nuclear power plants that will not be constructed.
- Another proposed law would force Duke to pay more than its promised $928,000 reimbursement to 165,000 customers who were overcharged when the utility's meter reading system bumped them to a higher rate tier, increasing their monthly bills by $100 or more.
- Other legislation would investigate the relationship between Duke and the Public Service Commission of Florida. The increased scrutiny comes as PSC prepares to rule on two key proposals involving the company. On Thursday, the commission will decide whether to approve the utility’s proposal to replace the failed nuclear project with a $1.5 billion natural gas plant. It will also rule on consumer advocates' requests to have Duke credit customers with $54 million for unused nuclear equipment.
Multiple attempts to ban the advance fee practice for nuclear generation have failed. Without it, utilities and nuclear advocates say there would be no feasible way for to finance nuclear plant construction, especially compared to cheaper natural gas.
Duke will have collected the full amount for undelivered nuclear equipment through the advance fee by the end of 2014 and retains a 20 year license for the proposed Levy County Nuclear Power Plant.
Lawmakers want the PSC to force the utility to refund the $54 million to customers. Duke wants to delay crediting customers with the $54 million until it gets a refund through a lawsuit against the contractor, Westinghouse. Westinghouse is counter-suing for $512 million for canceling the nuclear plant contract.