by Ron Hurtibise
MIAMI 2/24/16 — Florida’s two largest utility companies are the target of a lawsuit claiming a state law that authorized collection of $2 billion for construction of nuclear power facilities is unconstitutional.
The suit was filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida by Hagens Berman, which describes itself as a “national class action and complex litigation law firm.”
The suit accuses Florida Power & Light, headquartered in Juno, and Duke Energy Florida, a subsidiary of North Carolina-based Duke Energy Corp., of overcharging its ratepayers.
Relying on a 2006 state law that authorized the Nuclear Cost Recovery System, the utilities turned 6.4 million ratepayers into “involuntary investors in nuclear projects, charges them interest on their own money and never returns their ‘investment,” the suit contends. “When the projects are abandoned, the utilities keep the money and collect even more.”
Read the whole article: Sun Sentinel
2/23/16 — A law firm filed a class action lawsuit against utilities Duke Energy Florida (NYSE: DUK) and Florida Power & Light (FPL) alleging unlawful charges to fund nuclear power plant construction.
The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, alleges Duke and FPL of overcharging customers $2 billion since 2008 through electricity price hikes to fund the costs to build nuclear power plants in the state, though some of the projects have been abandoned. The suit seeks relief for customers of both utilities, including reimbursement from the companies for costs passed on to consumers to fund the projects, a declaration binding on the utilities that the state’s Nuclear Cost Recovery System and all nuclear cost recovery orders issued under it are unconstitutional and void, and an order ordering defendants from further charges.
Read the lawsuit here.
Read the whole article: Power Engineering
by Curt Anderson
MIAMI (AP) 2/23/16— A federal lawsuit has been filed challenging $2 billion in fees charged by Florida’s two largest electric utilities for nuclear plant projects, some of which were never completed.
The proposed class-action lawsuit filed Monday seeks to stop the fees and recover unspecified damages for about 6.4 million customers of Florida Power & Light and Duke Energy. The fees were imposed on ratepayers under a law passed in 2006 by the Legislature and implemented by the state Public Service Commission.
The suit contends that the law violates the U.S. Constitution’s commerce clause by discriminating against other out-of-state energy producers and that it is pre-empted by federal energy and nuclear laws. It also claims Florida customers are improperly charged for nuclear projects that can be subject to huge cost overruns or that are never built.
Read the whole article: CNBC
by Robert Trigaux
TAMPA 2/23/16 — A class action lawsuit was filed against Duke Energy Florida and Florida Power & Light alleging the monopoly electricity providers force millions of Florida customers to pay unlawful charges in connection with their electricity rates to fund the companies’ nuclear power plant projects, some of which have been abandoned.
The suit was brought Monday by the law firm Hagens Berman in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. It accuses Duke Energy Florida and FPL of overcharging through unconstitutional price hikes that increase customers’ electricity bills in order to fund nuclear construction costs.
The issue ranks among the most controversial in recent Florida history, forcing customers of monopoly utilities to take on the financial risk of building nuclear power plants, projects prone to extreme cost overruns. Such utility projects historically have been financed by banks and Wall Street, with the risks borne by Duke and FPL shareholders, not by ratepayers.
Read the whole article: Tampa Bay Times
Lawsuit states millions of Florida consumers have been wrongfully overcharged
MIAMI 2/22/16—Today two Florida utility companies – Duke Energy Florida and Florida Power and Light (FP&L) – were hit with a class-action lawsuit from Florida ratepayers alleging that the energy suppliers force millions of Florida customers to pay unlawful charges in connection with their electricity rates to fund the companies’ nuclear power plant projects, some of which have been abandoned, according to consumer-rights law firm Hagens Berman.
The suit filed Feb. 22, 2016 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida accuses Duke Energy and FP&L of overcharging through unconstitutional price hikes that increase customers’ electricity bills to fund nuclear construction costs, and according to public information, the two utilities have been authorized to collect hundreds of millions in nuclear project costs through rate hikes.
Read the whole article: Business Wire
by Bruce Henderson
Greensboro, NC 7/7/15 — When Duke Energy connected the solar panels on the roof of a Greensboro church to its grid last week, solar advocates gained a symbolic but tentative victory.
Faith Community Church serves as a test of a North Carolina law that says only public utilities like Duke can directly sell electricity.
The advocacy group NC WARN owns the $19,000 solar array and wants to sell the electricity it generates to the church, despite the law, for about half what Duke charges.
The challenge, now before the N.C. Utilities Commission, is part of a growing move to bring solar power to rooftops across the state. A bill before legislators would also allow third-party sales, as they are called, by non-utility energy developers.
Read the whole article: The Charlotte Observer
by Ivan Penn
3/2/15 TAMPA — Duke Energy Florida on Monday said it wants to suspend most of the remaining nuclear charge on customers’ bills for the canceled Levy County nuclear plant until it resolves a half-billion lawsuit over the project’s contract.
The proposal would give customers at least temporary relief from a $3.45 charge on the average bill each month, beginning around June 1, about six months earlier than expected.
But there’s a catch: While the proposal, if approved as filed, would save customers money in the short term, they might face far greater costs in the long run.
The proposal involves some complex maneuvering by the utility. At issue is Duke’s lawsuit with the contractor for the Levy project, Westinghouse Electric.
Read the whole article: Tampa Bay Times
3/2/15 TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – One of Florida’s largest power companies says it will go ahead and drop a nuclear power fee now charged to customers.
State regulators last October ordered Duke Energy Florida to refund $54 million it collected from ratepayers to pay for a failed nuclear plant in Levy County.
Duke on Monday filed a request that asks state regulators to approve a proposal to drop an average $3.45 a month charge from bills. A spokesman for Duke said the charge could be removed as soon as this summer.
Duke announced in 2013 it was abandoning plans to build the plant in Levy County on Florida’s Gulf coast.
Some of Duke’s billing practices have created an outcry. There is a push during this year’s legislative session to place additional restrictions on utilities.
Read the whole article: MyFoxOrlando.com
by Ivan Penn
TAMPA 1/13/15 — Imagine the Christian Coalition and the tea party joining hands with liberals and environmentalists.
Add to the Kumbaya moment Libertarians and Florida’s retail business federation.
They all plan to unite this morning for a news conference in Tallahassee about their campaign to allow those in Florida who generate electricity from the sun to sell that power directly to other consumers. Right now, that’s illegal here.
The coalition, which has dubbed itself Floridians for Solar Choice, has crafted a petition that was approved for circulation last month. They’ll need 683,149 signatures by Feb. 1, 2016, to get the question on the ballot for the 2016 election.
For some it’s ideological. For others, such as the retailers, it’s pure economics.
Read the whole article: Tampa Bay Times
by Michael Hinman
11/25/14 FLORIDA — A Tallahassee lawmaker is taking on one major campaign issue from the state’s mid-term elections right away, proposing a bill that would eliminate the ability of utility companies like Duke Energy Corp. to collect money for its failed nuclear plant projects.
State Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, D-Tallahassee, filed H.B. 4001 last Friday. If passed, it would repeal the nuclear cost recovery statute that has put Duke in line to collect more than $3.2 billion from customers through a $3.45 monthly surcharge. It’s supposed to pay for the now-closed Crystal River nuclear facility, as well as a cancelled nuclear power plant in Levy County.
The nuclear cost recovery statute was one of the big issues that affected the governor’s race, as well as some local races, including the one state Rep. Danny Burgess, R-Zephyrhills, eventually won. Burgess was forced to defend a $1,000 direct donation from Duke during an October candidate forum, as well as $2,000 of indirect support from Duke through the Republican Party of Florida.
Read the whole article: The Laker – Lutz News