Florida Republicans Want Utility Customers To Pay For Fracking In Another State

Activists protest fracking outside Gov. Cuomo's office, New York

Florida Republicans are set to guarantee even more profits for Duke Energy and FPL at the expense of consumers.

If you thought Florida Republicans couldn’t outdo themselves when it comes to sucking up to big utilities, you’re in for a shocker. House Bill 1043 would hand Floridians the bill for financing utility companies’ natural gas exploration and fracking in other states. The reason it would apply in other states is because there are no natural gas fracking operations in Florida.

If the utility companies make money, no problem. If they lose money, Florida utility customers get the bill for their unearned profits and losses. The guaranteed profits scheme is a tried-and-true brainchild of, among others, Florida Power & Light and Duke Energy – big donors to the Florida GOP.

HB 1043; Utility Investments in Gas Reserves would,

Approve cost recovery through an adjustment clause for an electric utility’s prudent investments in natural gas reserves, including rate of return, and prudently incurred expenses associated with such investments…

As the Tampa Bay Times points out, Florida Power & Light, which would benefit greatly from such a law, does its fracking in Oklahoma.

For as shocking as this sounds, it’s not the first time a big utility in Florida has used the government to force consumers to make sure they generate more profits than they deserve.

Duke Energy was the beneficiary of pre-construction payments from power grid customers back in 2006, for a nuclear power plant project. Despite the fact that it was never built, the energy company got to keep the $352 million it collected from its customers through price increases intended to fund the project.

When Duke Energy had to shut down the 32-year-old Crystal River nuclear power plant in 2009, because it was so neglected it was unrepairable, they did the same thing. In that case, the windfall was $3.2 billion.

Florida Power & Light also got a sweetheart deal from Florida lawmakers when they failed to build two new units at their Turkey Point nuclear power plant near Miami. That handed them $280 million.

According to Law360,

Both the project and the state law allowing customers to be billed in advance for the construction of nuclear power plants without requiring the projects to be completed, have come under fire in the recent past, including an unsuccessful class action challenging the law in state court.

So far, all efforts to let Florida electricity customers off the hook have failed.

A new bill, SB 1100: Repeal the Nuclear Cost Recovery, was introduced in 2017, although its passage is uncertain as long as the Florida legislature is dominated by Republicans who receive much of their campaign money from power companies.

One of the most effective ways to stop bad legislation is to contact your representative. Florida residents can find that information here.

To voice your views on federal legislation, call the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121.

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Gracie Lou

Gracie Lou

Gracie Lou is a political junkie, animal rights advocate, and award-winning writer. She believes that if people can stand on line to buy junk food, they can stand on line to vote.
Gracie Lou