Florida Power & Light Co. wants to charge customers another $22 million next year for two new nuclear reactors that might never be built, and but doesn’t want to do an analysis of whether the proposed $20 billion project still makes economic sense.
Attorneys for the Office of Public Counsel, the Florida Industrial Power Users Group, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and the city of Miami have asked regulators to deny FPL’s request for an exemption from the required analysis. FPL has provided such analyses in the past.
By the end of this year, FPL customers will have paid $282 million in pre-construction and pre-licensing costs for the proposed reactors known as Units 6 and 7, which, if approved, would join two existing nuclear reactors at the plant near Homestead.
If the additional $22 million is approved, FPL customers will have paid more than $303 million by the end of next year toward financing the reactors. The reactors have yet to be licensed and might never be built.
FPL said in a filing with the Florida Public Service Commission that an annual feasibility analysis at this stage would serve no meaningful purpose because FPL plans to only incur costs associated with obtaining and then maintaining its license, permits and certifications from 2017 to 2020.
Performing the extensive economic analysis would be a “substantial hardship and violates principles of fairness,” FPL said in the filing. It anticipates receiving its combined licensed from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and its wetland permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers by 2017.
Monday, attorneys for the four groups filed objections to FPL’s request for a waiver.
“Depriving the Commission, the Office of Public Counsel and other parties of the feasibility study while simultaneously asking the Commission to allow FPL to recover millions upon millions of dollars from ratepayers is unfair to the Commission and the parties,” FIPUG attorneys Jon Moyle and Karen Putnal wrote.
“The regulator, the Commission, is put in the untenable position of being asked to impose rates for a project unsupported by evidence that the project remains feasible,” FIPUG stated.
Instead, FIPUG suggests that FPL consider withdrawing its request to charge customers for costs associated with the planned reactors. If the PSC grants the waiver, it should require FPL, not FPL ratepayers, to fund the permit and licensing activities.
SACE attorney George Cavros stated in the filing that there is great uncertainty and risk surrounding FPL’s proposed Turkey Point 6 and 7 reactors, and all the financial risk is being borne by its customers.
The in-service dates have been moved three times, most recently to the 2027-28 timeframe.
Public Counsel J.R. Kelly said that the annual feasibilty analysis serves to safeguard customers from potentially paying millions of dollars over numerous years on a project when the analysis may show it is no longer viable and may be abandoned.