On Thursday, the Florida Supreme Court rejected a challenge against a 2006 law which permits utilities to collect pre-construction fees from customers for nuclear power plants and does not require refunds to customers in the event that plants are never actually built.
Florida’s high court ruling was unanimous in support of the 2006 law which was passed with the goal of encouraging the development and upkeep of nuclear facilities. Two utilities, Florida Power & Light and Progress Energy, have both collected pre-construction fees from customers since that time.
The lawsuit was filed by the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and argued that the law violated the Florida Constitution by delegating too much power to the Public Service Commission.
“Authorizing recovery of pre-construction costs through customer rates in order to promote utility company investment in new nuclear power plants, even though those plants might never be built, is a policy decision for the Legislature, not this court,” the 21-page opinion concluded, as reported in the Orlando Sentinel.
And indeed, the Legislature has exercised this discretion this session. In fact, the Supreme Court ruling came just one hour before the Florida Senate voted to approve SB 1472 which tweaks how utilities may collect future fees, but does not repeal the law or require refunds for customers.