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Connecting the dots: Utah considers copying Florida's blunder ...

Published February 20, 2013 4:09 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Our editorial about a bad bill that has been proposed in Utah:

— Nuclear speculation: SB199 would shift risk to ratepayers — Salt Lake Tribune EditorialWhen the ink isn't even dry before the sponsoring lawmaker starts distancing himself from a bill he just introduced, the possibility of that bill becoming law seems remote indeed.Which is good, because Sen. Curt Bramble's SB199 is a horrible idea.The bill, dropped in the hopper at the behest of developers who just won't give up the foolish idea of building a nuclear power plant on Utah's Green River, would take the extraordinary step of allowing a power utility to start charging its customers for certain generating stations long before the station is actually generating. And it would provide a loophole in the current law that requires utilities operating in the state to provide their customers with the cheapest power available.The bill is basically an admission that nuclear power plants are far too expensive, and far too risky an investment, to be bankrolled through the private capital market. With no investors willing to put up the billions necessary for the long permitting and design process — which could lead to a dry hole — the backers of the proposed Blue Castle nuclear plant want Utah electric customers to fund their speculation. ...

Was noticed by a writer for Forbes online:

— Editors Rebel Against Ratepayer Financing For Nuclear Plants — Jeff McMahon | ForbesThis is a tale of two editorials today: one in Utah, lambasting a lawmaker for trying to sneak a price hike into energy bills to pay for a proposed nuclear plant, and one in Florida, demanding the repeal of just such a price hike, which has collected hundreds of millions from ratepayers for nuclear plants that may never be built. ...

Which led us to these editorials from our brethern in Florida:

— Nuclear Billing in Advance: Repeal Recovery Clause —The [Lakeland, Fla.] Ledger EditorialKey lawmakers are at last acknowledging the inherent unfairness of a 2006 law that allows Florida's big power companies to charge customers in advance for costs associated with building new nuclear-power capabilities, even if those projects never become a reality.Known as the Nuclear Cost Recovery Clause, the law was passed overwhelmingly by the Legislature back when Florida's growth was booming, natural gas prices were skyrocketing, coal-fired plants were raising concerns over greenhouse gas emissions and the state and power companies both fervently wanted to develop a more balanced approach to power generation through new nuclear power plants.A lot has changed since then. Florida's power companies are no longer as doggedly pursuing new nuclear power plants.However, they are as eager as ever to collect the nuclear cost recovery fee every month from every customer. The fees this year will generate $143 million for Duke Energy (formerly Progress Energy Florida) and $151 million for Florida Power & Light. ...

All the more reason why Utah voters need the power to call referrendums on laws their elected leaders pass:

— Robbing the people: Bill would gut right of redress — Salt Lake Tribune EditorialIn their relentless quest to make their stranglehold on Utah government complete, Republican lawmakers are advancing legislation that would cripple the right of ordinary citizens to repeal decisions of local elected officials by referendum.Under SB66, sponsored by Sen. Stuart Reid, R-Ogden, citizens unhappy with a decision by a local government body would face significantly greater obstacles to repealing such decisions at the ballot box. ...

[h/t to HEAL Utah for flagging this for us.]