by Robert Trigaux
TAMPA 12/13/13 — Every year, the oafish actions of big business or government hurt Florida consumers. Think back to banks that fraudulently “robo-signed” home foreclosure papers. Or state-run Citizens Property Insurance dumping gobs of Florida policyholders.
But 2013 upped the ante in sticking it to Floridians. So much so that I decided to issue the annual Sour Orange Award for inflicting the most harm on Tampa Bay and Florida residents.
Two especially outrageous actions were finalists for the award. It was a tough choice.
The first travesty: the Biggert-Waters Act to “reform” those flood insurance premiums on older homes that have been subsidized for decades. Blindly approved by Congress and implemented this fall, the act is starting to rapidly jack up premiums and scare away home buyers. In just a few months, the act already threatens to disrupt and perhaps destroy portions of Florida’s coastal and low-lying real estate markets, ruin home values and undermine a cornerstone of the state economy.
Competing against Biggert-Waters is Duke Energy’s gouging Florida customers this year in a series of flubbed nuclear power projects in Florida. Many of Duke’s actions came at the direct expense of its own (and increasingly unhappy) base of Florida customers. In February, Duke decided to shutter its one and only nuclear power plant, broken since 2009, in Crystal River north of Tampa. This past week, Duke said it will take the next 60 years and spend $1.2 billion just to decommission the plant, leaving decades of spent radioactive fuel stored on site and under guard.
Read the whole article: Tampa Bay Times
by Ivan Penn
12/9/13 — In its December newsletter, the AARP pledged that one of its 2014 legislative goals is the repeal of the state law that allows utilities to charge customers in advance for new nuclear projects.
AARP said it is backing a small but growing coalition of lawmakers who believe the law is an unfair tax on consumers who may get nothing from the charges.
The Nuclear Cost Recovery Clause or so-called “advance fee” has been a growing point of contention since Duke Energy and Florida Power & Light began using the statute for proposed nuclear plants that may never get built.
Read the whole article: Tampa Bay Times
by Jonathan Shapiro
ATLANTA 12/6/2013 — AARP is aiming to rally opposition against Georgia Power’s latest rate hike request through radio and internet ads.
Radio Ad: “Even after four years of rate hikes, Georgia Power is asking for another increase.”
The ads come despite a tentative deal reached last month between the power company, state regulators, and consumer groups to lower the rate request from $1.46 billion to $873 million.
Read the whole article: WABE 90.1
by Jacob Sandry
Why Conservatives love clean energy
Efficiency and Competition
The costs of technologies like solar have dropped meteorically over the past few years, making renewables efficient and reliable. More renewables means more competition in the free market, which should drive down prices, benefiting customers.
Choice and Self-reliance
Electricity is dominated by regional monopolies across the United States. Renewables give customers more choices over their electricity purchases so they aren’t solely reliant on big utilities for their energy.
Clean energy can reduce our dependence on oil from volatile countries. The military is pumping billions of dollars into renewables to increase troop readiness and independence. It also makes us more prepared for major blackouts from cyber attacks or storms.
Read the whole article: Huffington Post
By Walter C. Jones
ATLANTA 12/2/13 — Georgia Power agreed last month to settle for a smaller rate hike than it had wanted, an agreement that won endorsement by nearly a dozen consumer, environmental and business advocacy groups, but one organization is fighting it.
The retiree-advocacy AARP is airing radio and online commercials and pushing a petition to urge the five members of the Public Service Commission to nix the agreement negotiated by its public-interest staff that slices the rate hike almost in half. Monday, the 1-million-member group reported collecting almost 3,000 signatures.
Its advertisement on WSB-AM in Atlanta points people to a website action.aarp.org/GAutilities where they can voice their opposition to the rate hike still part of the agreement as well as the reduced profit target. Georgia Power is accepting a reduction from 11.15 percent to 10.95, but the ad says that’s higher than the national average for other regulated monopoly utilities.
“In these tough economic times, Georgia families deserve to keep more of their hard-earned money in their pockets – by paying Georgia Power what’s fair and reasonable, and not a dime more,” said AARP spokesman Ed Van Herik.
Read the whole article: Florida Times-Union
By Darren Goode
12/2/13 — Can conservatives and environmentalists get along again?
Activists around the country are giving it a try.
In Appalachia, greens are banding together with the Tennessee Conservative Union to oppose mountaintop mining. In Georgia, the Sierra Club and Atlanta’s tea party have formed a Green Tea Coalition that is demanding a bigger role for solar power in the state’s energy market. Elsewhere, veterans of the George W. Bush administration are working with the Environmental Defense Fund on market-based ideas for protecting endangered species.
It’s not yet a broad national trend, and may not be enough to begin dampening Washington’s bitter left-right split over President Barack Obama’s environmental policies. But some activists — particularly outside the Beltway — see potential for the kinds of coalitions that used to get big things done, back in the days when Theodore Roosevelt was creating national parks and George H.W. Bush’s administration was taking on acid rain.
Read the whole article: POLITICO