Fast-Track Bill for New Nuke Plants Means Steep Costs, Risks

TALLAHASSEE (May 4, 2006) -- The Florida Senate will vote on final passage of an energy bill today or tomorrow that would force ratepayers to finance an expensive, risky electric generating technology -- nuclear power -- and pay for it long before a single kilowatt of power is produced. The legislation would be a costly mistake, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), insulating the nuclear industry from public accountability and taking the state in the wrong direction.

"We're talking about waiting years to construct $4-billion-dollar white elephants, sticking consumers with sky-high electric bills, and cranking out radioactive waste that we don't know what to do with," said Susan Glickman, NRDC's Florida policy director. "There are faster, cheaper and safer ways for us to diversify our energy sources using cleaner, more efficient energy technologies that save consumers money instead of forcing them to pick up a utility company's tab."

The Senate bill is nearly identical to one passed earlier this week by the House, which would make it easier for utilities to build new nuclear power plants, more difficult for the public or local governments to oppose them, and allow companies to bill ratepayers for building costs during construction instead of waiting until the plant goes into service.

"The nuclear industry should have to compete head-to-head with other energy sources in the marketplace, instead of sucking up taxpayer subsidies," said NRDC energy analyst Dale Bryk. "For 50 years, nuclear power has received more government subsidies than any other energy technology, and it still is not cost-competitive. And until the industry can address the critical issue of radioactive waste and proliferation, there should be no more subsidies. We've wasted enough money on it already."