Florida Dems uses Duke Energy fees as Charlie Crist/Dwight Dudley campaign push

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In a blatant campaign pitch for Charlie Crist, Florida Representative Dwight Dudley blasted Governor Rick Scott for being a little too cozy with Duke Energy.

Florida Democrats say Scott has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the energy giant and is therefore siding with them over average Floridians.

“Why are we subsidizing a highly profitable company and regular consumers being placed in the shoes of investors?” Dudley asked during a conference call Tuesday. “We don’t get any stock, we don’t get any dividends. Basically the people are the piggy bank.”

Duke Energy is, and has been charging ratepayers what’s called advanced nuclear recovery fees. It’s a fee tacked on to energy bills for repairs or construction of new or existing plants. Duke customers are paying it for the broken and shuttered Crystal River plant and a plant in Levy County that the company has already said they’re not going to build after all.

It’s raised a fury among ratepayers who think Duke Energy should have to give that money back. The Public Service Commission says it doesn’t.

The conference call with reporters centered on Duke Energy charging more from its customers, but it was obvious it was an anti-Scott, pro-Crist campaign push.

“Governor Crist stood strong against the utility companies and Rick Scott has shown that he is completely uninterested and unwilling to do the right thing,” Dudley said.

Dudley slammed Scott for taking campaign contributions from Duke and other utility companies.

“I’ve called for the recipients of all these monies to give it back. It’s dirty money,” Dudley said.

Duke customer Tiffany Cornelius described herself as a stay-at-home mom expecting her second child. She lamented rate hikes on her electric bill saying it’s difficult to keep up on a single income.

“He’s given Duke Energy a blank check from the people of Florida and we’re all sick and tired of it,” Cornelius said. “It just hurts Florida’s middle class over and over.”

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.