Florida utility seeks to cancel nuclear construction plans while leaving customers on the hook for hundreds of millions as Iowa legislators consider allowing a similar swindle
IOWA –(ENEWSPF)–January 27, 2012. News that Florida utility Progress Energy plans to cancel the construction contract for its proposed nuclear reactors in Levy County — and will leave customers with a bill of hundreds of millions of dollars — should convince Iowa legislators to finally abandon a proposal by MidAmerican Energy that could bilk consumers across Iowa, said Friends of the Earth.
“Allowing advance rate increases for nuclear reactors has turned into a nightmare for Florida consumers, and Iowa legislators need to heed this warning,” said Mike Carberry, nuclear campaigner in Iowa for Friends of the Earth. “If we can’t learn the lessons of history then we are doomed to repeat them.”
In 2006, the Florida legislature passed a bill that allowed investor-owned utilities to charge ratepayers for construction costs for new nuclear reactors before they were built and producing electricity. So far, Progress Energy has spent $1.1 billion on planning and development for the Levy nuclear project. Progress’ ratepayers had already footed $545 million of this bill through the end of 2011 and they will be forced to pay the remaining $555 million, despite the increasing possibility the reactors will never be constructed.
The Iowa Legislature is currently considering similar legislation (HF 561) that would allow MidAmerican Energy to force Iowa consumers to foot the bill in advance for nuclear reactors, and let MidAmerican keep the money regardless of whether they are ever constructed. A recent analysis of an amended version of the House bill by the Iowa Utilities Board staff confirmed that this bill fails to protect consumers and actually creates incentives for utilities to behave in a manner contrary to the public interest.
“Iowa senators must stand up for the public and reject MidAmerican’s attempt to fleece consumers,” said Carberry.
The Iowa Senate Commerce Committee will again take up HF 561 on Tuesday, January 31. Friends of the Earth is asking the committee to protect the consumers of Iowa by rejecting the bill.
Friends of the Earth fights to defend the environment and create a more healthy and just world. Our current campaigns focus on promoting clean energy and solutions to climate change, keeping toxic and risky technologies out of the food we eat and products we use, and protecting marine ecosystems and the people who live and work near them.