News from Tallahassee for 4/19/14

PSC to consider rules implementing nuclear cost law changes posted on 12/3/13

by Bruce Ritchie | Florida Current

FL Public Service Commission logo

The Public Service Commission on Tuesday will consider adopting noncontroversial rule changes to implement a legislative revision of the state's nuclear cost recovery law.

SB 1472, signed by Gov. Rick Scott on June 14, amended the 2006 state law that allows utilities to charge customers for new nuclear plants that may never be built. The bill passed despite opposition from Florida Power & Light Co. and Duke Energy Corp., which have collected more than $1.4 billion from customers under the law.

SB 1472, passed in May, restricts the costs that utilities can recover and requires utilities annually to demonstrate to the PSC that they intend to finish their nuclear projects.

The law change contributed to Duke Energy's decision in August to cancel a proposed new nuclear plant in Levy County. Utility spokesman Sterling Ivey said the proposed rule changes won't affect the recovery of costs that went into the proposed Levy County plant or the work to upgrade the Crystal River nuclear unit that has since been retired.

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Broward, 7 cities to share in state settlement posted on 11/14/13

by Donna Gehrke-White | Sun Sentinel

The Broward County Board of Commissioners, the South Florida Water Management and seven South Florida cities will be among dozens of agencies from around the state dividing more than $300,000 from a settlement.

The Broward County Board of Commissioners, the South Florida Water Management and seven South Florida cities will be among dozens of agencies from around the state dividing more than $300,000 from a settlement.

The Florida Attorney General's Office will receive the money from New York-based CA Technologies to resolve allegations that it overcharged government customers.

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NC appeals court weighs Duke Energy merger deal posted on 11/6/13

by Emery P. Dalesio | AP

RALEIGH, N.C. — The North Carolina Court of Appeals is being asked to decide whether the deal that made Charlotte-based Duke Energy Corp. the country's largest electric company should be revised to do more for consumers.

The court will hear arguments Wednesday challenging the state Utilities Commission's decision last year to approve the agreement combining Duke Energy with Raleigh-based Progress Energy.

A three-judge panel is considering whether the North Carolina Utilities Commission did a full cost-benefit analysis before it approved a deal combining Duke Energy with Raleigh-based Progress Energy. The advocacy group NC WARN contends the commission didn't fully protect consumers from risks connected to the merger. The city of Orangeburg, S.C., is challenging some of the terms of the merger that brought together companies that each served customers in both Carolinas...

A decision isn't expected for several months and a ruling could be appealed to the state Supreme Court. The high court ruled earlier this year that the state Utilities Commission did not adequately consider the negative impact on consumers by allowing Duke Energy to raise rates by 7 percent.

Although the merger included the promise that Duke Energy would pass along to consumers at least $650 million in fuel savings, attorneys for NC WARN contend the commission wrongly accepted the utility's promises when it "submitted evidence that the merger will benefit only themselves but no evidence was submitted that the merger will further the public convenience and necessity."

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Fla. Bill Would Stop Private Utilities From Charging More Than Government-Owned Ones posted on 11/1/13

by JESSICA PALOMBO | WFSU

It would be illegal for a private water utility to charge higher rates than a government-owned utility in the same Florida county—if a bill making that change passes the state Legislature this year. The bill would also require the state utility regulator to punish utilities that don’t meet minimum water quality standards.

State Sen. Wilton Simpson (R-Trilby) calls his bill the Consumer Water Protection Act. He says when the Public Service Commission decides whether a utility can raise rates, it should have to consider whether water meets standards for taste, odor and color.

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Lower Aquifer Under Exploration posted on 10/21/13

by Sara Drumm | Ledger

WINTER HAVEN | It may sound like a problem for the distant future, but officials are hurrying to find a new source of water before 2035.

By that time, it is projected that Central Florida will be pumping about the maximum amount permitted from the Upper Floridan Aquifer.

Even before that — around 2021 — some municipalities, especially along the U.S. 27 corridor, are projected to need more water than they are allowed to draw from the upper aquifer.

Officials with Polk County and the South and Southwest Florida water management districts say they hope to use a supplemental water source about which not much is known: the Lower Floridan Aquifer.

The Southwest Florida Water Management District, also known as Swiftmud, which covers most of Polk County, is moving forward with a project to test the quality and quantity of water in the lower aquifer, which is separated from the upper aquifer by a thick layer of clay or rocks.

To do that, the district plans to drill three exploratory wells into the Lower Floridan Aquifer. Currently, it is looking into sites in Winter Haven, Haines City and Frostproof.

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