AARP, State, And Local Officials Urge Florida Supreme Court To Overturn Controversial Nuclear Tax For Reactor Financing

Ratepayer Backlash in State Builds: News Briefing Takes Places on Eve of Oral Arguments Before the Supreme Court.

MIAMI, Oct. 3, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AARP Florida and a bipartisan group of state and city elected officials today urged the Florida Supreme Court to overturn the state's widely criticized "nuclear cost recovery" payment scheme that is forcing elderly and other ratepayers in the state to pay for cost-prohibitive nuclear reactors that may never be built.

The hugely controversial advance-payment "nuclear tax" system – under which millions of Florida consumers are saddled in advance with higher utility bills for nuclear reactors that, in the best case, may come online years after many of the out-of-pocket ratepayers have died – is being pushed by Florida Power & Light (FPL) and Progress Energy Florida (PEF).

Today's news conference is the latest indication of the growing backlash in Florida against the nuclear tax for reactors.

In addition to a bipartisan group of state lawmakers who are actively working to repeal the nuclear tax legislation, numerous municipalities -- including the cities of North and South Miami, Pinecrest, Biscayne Park, Yankeetown, Crestview as well as the Miami-Dade League of Cities and Broward League of Cities -- have all passed resolutions opposing the nuclear cost recovery law.

In his prepared news conference statement, Charles Milsted, associate state director, AARP Florida, said: "The Legislature has been unresponsive to consumer concerns about Florida's advance nuclear cost recovery statute. Therefore, consumers have sought relief through the judicial branch. AARP is hopeful that the law and common sense will prevail at oral argument before the state Supreme Court and that the fundamental unfairness of the PSC's actions and of the underlying statute will be found unconstitutional."

Florida State Representative Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda (D-District 9), who initiated and led a bipartisan group of state lawmakers to file a legislators' amicus brief in support of the constitutional challenge of the cost recovery statute, said: "Nuclear cost recovery is a hidden tax used by the utility companies to control our energy choices, eliminate competition, and hold back the future. If Floridians were freed from the burden of costly nuclear plants that are a 20th century technology, consumers would have more resources to invest in lowering their own utility bills by investing in the most practical actions of weatherizing of their own homes and business, or more efficient machines and even light bulbs, and perhaps installing available renewable energy solutions. Consumers would have the freedom to make their own energy choices while creating a robust and sustainable economy built on thousands of jobs for homegrown construction workers, electricians, plumbers, and farmers." Additionally, Rep. Rehwinkel Vasilinda has also introduced bills to repeal the anti-consumer legislation.

Florida State Senator Mike Fasano (R-District 11) said: "The advance nuclear cost recovery was sold to the Florida Legislature with false construction promises and inaccurate fiscal projections for the future. It is unconscionable that this utility has been collecting huge amounts of money from its customers, and will continue to do so for years to come, without any assurance that the project will ever be completed. As a privately held company the financial risk should be borne by the shareholders, not customers who may never see the benefit of the money they are being forced to pay."

Fasano added: "I applaud the consumer advocates who are working hard to repeal this anti-consumer law that has lined the pockets of one company at the expense of hardworking individuals, many of whom struggle daily to make ends meet."

Lauderdale-By-The-Sea Mayor Roseann Minnet, chair of the Broward League of Cities Sustainability Committee, said: "Early cost recovery shifts the risks from shareholders to customers."

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EDITOR'S NOTE: A streaming audio replay of the Florida news event will be available on the Web at as of 5 p.m. EDT on October 3, 2012.

SOURCE AARP Florida, Tallahassee, FL