Utility companies raise rates to pay for proposed nuclear plants



CENTRAL FLORIDA - Thousands of Central Florida residents will be paying more for electricity.

State regulators approved a rate hike Monday that will help utility companies like Progress Energy and Florida Power & Light build nuclear power plants.

The ruling means, starting next year, Florida Power & Light customers will pay $1.69 more each month and Progress Energy customers will pay $4.79 more per month.

Companies said the increased rates will help build two proposed nuclear plants, and by having customers pay up front, they said it will lower the costs later.

"And new nuclear units in Turkey Point, we anticipate over the life of those units, would save $58 billion in fuel costs," said Peter Robins of FPL/Next Era Energy.

But there's no guarantee the plants will ever be built, and even if they aren't, customers won't be able to get any of their money back.

"I'm all for building more efficient infrastructure, but if there is no guaranteed payoff, then what's the point?" asked Seminole County resident Jason Cyrus.

"It's kind of ridiculous a little bit, because they're charging us for something that they might not do," said Seminole County resident Tara Valentino.

The AARP is also against the plan.

Charles Millstead, an AARP spokesperson, said, "It's fundamentally unfair. We consider it actually outrageous that people are paying for a possibility of a nuclear power plant being built, and frankly all the costs and all the risk is coming on the back of the customer."

The Florida Supreme Court is still considering whether the plan is constitutional.

The total cost for the new plants is estimated at $24 billion.