- The Florida Senate passed SB 288, its version of the House-approved HB 7109, and sent it to Governor Rick Scott. The bill makes Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) reforms but was weakened through the influence of the state’s utilities, according to Republican Senator Jack Latvala, who sponsored the legislation on the Senate side.
- The bill would limit future PSC members to three consecutive four-year terms, require annual ethics training for commissioners, require utilities to notify customers of the best available rates, and prevent utilities from using extended billing cycles to increase rates as Duke Energy Florida inadvertently did in 2013-2014.
- Latvala said Florida Power & Light (FP&L) used leverage over House members to block stronger reforms. An FP&L spokesperson said the utility “never objected” to the bill.
Latvala highlighted the House’s elimination of provisions to increase the influence of the Office of Public Counsel, the state consumer advocate, and a requirement the PSC move at least one hearing yearly to the service territories of each of Florida’s dominant electricity providers: FP&L, Duke, Tampa Electric and Gulf Power.
Latvala said the Senate was forced to accept the House provision allowing Duke to securitize $1.4 billion in repair costs for its decommissioned Crystal River nuclear plant. The facility was shuttered in 2013 but did not generate electricity after 2009.
The Nuclear Asset Recovery Bonds will allow Duke to cut interest costs on plant decommissioning from the current 7% to 2.6%, decreasing the 20-year overall cost to customers by about $600 million. That would lower a 1,000 kWh-per-month residential customer’s bill by about $2.42 monthly.
The bond plan is a compromise on nuclear plant cost allocation. Using securitization for this facility to lower customers’ bills assuages consumer advocates over a separate multi-billion dollar loss on nuclear construction without causing the utility further financial pain.