TALLAHASSEE — In a four to one vote, Florida’s Public Service Commission approved a revised and restated settlement agreement for Duke Energy Florida Inc. Oct. 17 that maintains customer base rates through 2018, terminates plans for Duke’s Levy County nuclear units 1 and 2, and promotes community growth through economic development tariffs.
“This Agreement benefits both residential and business customers and will help grow the local economy,” said PSC Chairman Ronald A. Brisé. “I am pleased that Florida’s Public Counsel, White Springs Agriculture Chemicals, Inc., Florida Industrial Power Users Group, Florida Retail Federation, and Duke Energy Florida agreed on difficult issues that provide long-term stability in the public’s interest.”
Commissioner Eduardo E. Balbis, who voted against the decision, stated, “We have another viable option that is already in place. Additionally, there are several critical unanswered questions that warrant additional review.”
While the revised agreement supersedes Duke’s current agreement, approved last year, customer refunds contained in the 2012 agreement remain, including $129 million this year, $139 million in 2014, $50 million in 2015, and $70 million in 2016. Customers will also receive a total refund of $835 million from insurance proceeds for Duke Energy’s retired Crystal River 3 nuclear plant by the end of 2014.
When an asset (such as a plant) is retired, the company has a right, by law, to recover the remaining costs from its customers. Under the revised agreement, recoverable costs for CR3 will be capped at $1.4 billion, with the company’s stockholders covering the first $295 million and long repayment schedules also lowering costs to customers. Duke Energy Florida will continue to collect fixed amounts, with no incremental bill impact, for costs associated with its discontinued Levy plant until approximately 2017.
Since 2010, the PSC has opened several separate dockets to continually analyze and review the company’s actions; PSC staff has reviewed hundreds of thousands of pages of filings, from Duke Energy Florida, its contractors, and other parties; conducted numerous, extensive depositions; requested answers to hundreds of discovery questions; and Commissioners have presided over eight hearings and status conferences, where the company and expert witnesses provided testimony and evidence.
Hundreds of customers have also provided comments that are included in each docket’s file, and as part of the Commission’s transparent processes, all filings and transcripts of Commission proceedings are available to the public at www.FloridaPSC.com.
Parties to the revised agreement, filed with the Commission on Aug. 1, include Duke Energy Florida, the Office of Public Counsel, White Springs Agriculture Chemicals Inc., Florida Industrial Power Users Group, and Florida Retail Federation.