Utility regulators to allow FPL to charge customers $133 million for Turkey Point canal cleanup

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The Florida Public Service Commission voted unanimously on Tuesday to allow Florida Power & Light Co. to recover about $132.6 million in costs associated with cleaning up pollution from leaking cooling canals at its Turkey Point nuclear plant in Homestead.

The recovery cost allowance per FPL monthly bill is $1.59 per 1,000 kilowatt usage by the typical residential customer, according to PSC spokeswoman Cindy Muir.

But some of those costs will be added to bills over time, said FPL spokesman Mark Bubriski. He said the $1.59 a month actually reflects a total of $159.8 million in environmental recovery being allowed, of which $82.3 million relates to Turkey Point.

He said FPL bills are slated to increase by 17 cents to $102.72 in January, up from the current $102.55. Total environmental cost recovery are decreasing from $2.44 a month this year to $1.59 next year.

There was little discussion among commissioners who said they trusted their staff’s recommendation to allow the cost recovery.

Commissioner Donald Polmann, appointed by Gov. Rick Scott in January, said there had been “tremendous work” on the issue by the staff and commission, including his on three hours listening to technical issues. “I’m satisfied the staff has done their job,” he said.

Commissioners Ronald Brisé, who is leaving the PSC, and Gary F. Clark, appointed by Scott in September, agreed.

The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, which has filed a lawsuit against FPL concerning its cleanup efforts, said the PSC ignored more than 800 customer requests in approving the cost recovery.

Executive director Stephen Smith said customers shouldn’t have to pay for FPL’s “negligence and mistakes” in the operation of the cooling canal system at Turkey Point. “It is obscene that FPL will be rewarded for their screw-ups and even make a profit off a portion of the proposed $200 million clean-up operation all paid by hardworking Florida families,” Smith said in a statement following Tuesday’s vote.

FPL petitioned the commission in 2016 for recovery of costs associated with the actions of environmental regulators.

Recovery of the costs was disputed by the Office of Public Counsel, Florida Industrial Power Users Group and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. The industrial power users group said $132.6 million of the costs should be disallowed.

But the Public Service Commission staff recommended that FPL be allowed to recover the costs.

The cost recovery also was allowed despite a U.S. District Court judge’s decision not to dismiss a lawsuit by the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Friends of the Everglades, and Tropical Audubon Society. The plaintiffs say in their lawsuit that FPL’s proposed remedies for cleanup will not stem the pollution from Turkey Point seeping into Biscayne Bay.

The controversy began when the South Florida Water Management District, one of the environmental agencies monitoring the canals, determined that saline water had moved into waters outside Turkey Point’s boundaries.

FPL argued to the PSC that it has resolved violations cited by the Miami-Dade Department of Environmental Resources Management and Florida Department of Environmental Protection, but incurred costs as a direct result of their actions.

mpounds@sunsentinel.com or 561-243-6650, twitter: @marciabiz





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