North Miami City Council passes resolution against nuclear cost recovery
On Tuesday night, the North Miami City Council took an important step in standing up for citizen’s rights by passing a resolution against early cost recovery legislation, intended to incentivize nuclear power in the State by putting the burden on the ratepayers.
Early cost recovery for nuclear power, or nuclear cost recovery (NCR), is a piece of Florida legislation from 2006 that allows utility companies to charge customers in advance for risky, new nuclear projects. This means that even before the nuclear projects have been permitted or approved, utility companies have the ability to raise the rates of their customers for plants that will not be built until twenty, thirty, forty years later, and with no guarantee that the new nuclear facilities will actually be built in the end.
Florida Power and Light (FP&L) and Progress Energy Florida (PEF) have both taken advantage of the nuclear cost recovery legislation, proposing new nuclear reactors at Turkey Point and Levy County, respectively. Combined, the projects are estimated to cost over $40 billion. Since 2009, FP&L has asked for $290 million, and PEF has asked for $730 million from the Public Service Commission - the agency that regulates utilities in Florida - which they were granted. They will continue asking for nuclear cost recovery funds for the next two decades, with no actual commitment to build other than their pursuit of a license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. In the meantime, no additional service will be provided for the customer’s added expense.
Across the state, young people and community members have been standing up against this unfair nuclear tax. Since last November, 11 cities have passed a resolution against the nuclear cost recovery clause, including the Miami-Dade League of Cities, which represents 34 cities in Southeast Florida. Students and youth involved with the Florida Youth Environmental Sustainability Coalition (FL YES) have been actively campaigning against nuclear cost recovery and new nuclear in the State since last summer. As the lifeblood of the Southern Energy Network’s Florida program, the FL YES Coalition represents over 200 students and youth working on these issues on 10 different college campuses across the state.
Christina Novaton, a FL YES leader and a Florida International University student, took the stage on Tuesday to urge the City Council of North Miami to pass the resolution. “FP&L does not want to pay for this, even though they’ve made an increase in their profits the last three years. They want us to pay in advance for these two new nuclear reactors that they may or may not build.” She continued to highlight the many environmental risks of building new nuclear reactors, and assured the audience we would be in “big trouble” if a nuclear disaster occurred at Turkey Point Nuclear Plant near Miami.
In a time of economic struggle for this country, particularly for Florida, it just is not right for customers to be bearing the burden of the whims of the utilities. Just last year, FP&L made a 13% increase on their profits, much of which is due to the NCR money they were granted.
Building new nuclear in itself is incredibly expensive, even with the taxpayer subsidies already given to the industry. Without these subsidies, nuclear power is too expensive to be viable. So not only are taxpayers in Florida paying for nuclear through federal subsidies, but FP&L and Progress ratepayers are paying more on top of that. Nuclear power also poses huge environmental and health risks to the public. Though championed as the “carbon-free” solution to climate change, it is far from the solution we need. Difficulties with radioactive waste storage, leaks, cracks, and other infrastructure damage, and the intensive amount of resources needed to make a nuclear reactor run, are all warning flags about the dangers involved. In light of the Fukushima disaster in Japan, we should all be taking serious steps to consider the risks of nuclear power to our communities.
Instead of a future where customers are burdened with the economic and environmental risks of nuclear, let us build a future that creates good, sustainable jobs through energy efficiency programs and clean energy technology. Compared to nuclear (4.2 jobs/$1 million investment), an investment in solar power can create over twice as many jobs (13.72), building a smart grid infrastructure can create 3 times as many jobs (12.46), and retrofitting can create over 4 times as many jobs (17.36). When you look at the data, putting all of our resources into risky nuclear power seems to be the worst investment possible.
“We need to move away from these false solutions to our energy crisis and start building a new clean energy future,” said Christina. “Our elected officials are going to have to make some difficult choices and stand with the people, not polluters, if we are going to see any positive change on the road to end nuclear cost recovery and the dirty energy industries in the state.”
Check out the video from this action here!