By Noah Pransky
PINELLAS COUNTY, Florida — It’s $1.5 billion of your dollars you’re not getting back.
On Thursday, Duke Energy Florida (formerly Progress Energy) announced that the company would pull the plug on its future Levy Co. nuclear plant. And the money the company has been collecting from customers for years — and will continue to collect until 2018 — will go toward Duke Energy’s expenses and profits.
“That was a vote that I regretted,” said State Rep. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, of his vote supporting the 2006 Nuclear Cost Recovery Clause. “If I had to do it all over again, I would have voted ‘no.'”
Fasano was one of more than 150 legislators to support the sweeping energy bill in 2006 that included a provision to allow power companies to bill customers well in advance for nuclear facilities that may, or may not, build in the future.
But Fasano was also one of the first legislators to warn of unintended consequences of the legislation, launching efforts to repeal the clause in 2007. Every year Fasano tried to fight for change, he was rebuffed by the powerful energy lobby and legislators who were friendly to their cause.
Meanwhile, since the law was passed, Duke/Progress Energy has spent nearly $5 million in direct campaign contributions to state candidates and political groups, plus much more lobbying.