Bay area lawmaker calls for Duke Energy to refund customers

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Bay News 9

Representative Mike Fansano
In response to Duke Energy’s announcement to close the Crystal River nuclear plant, State Rep. Mike Fasano is calling for a billion-dollar refund to customers.

ST. PETERSBURG — In response to Duke Energy’s announcement to close the Crystal River nuclear plant, State Rep. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, is calling for a $1 billion refund to customers.

Fasano is calling for Duke Energy/Progress Energy Florida to refund all the money that has been collected from its customers in the name of a repair project that is now being abandoned.

The lawmaker says the plant has been plagued with problems and with the closure customers will not see any return on their forced investment. Fasano represents the state’s 36th district, which includes parts of Citrus, Hernando, Pasco and Pinellas counties.

"This utility has collected over $1.3 billion dollars from its customers for the repair of its broken power plant that apparently will now never be fixed," Fasano said. "The poor choices made by Duke/ Progress Energy’s present and former executives leave customers with nothing to show for the huge bills they have been forced to pay."

Repairing and improving the plant would have cost $3.4 billion and taken years. The 36-year-old plant has not produced power since 2009.

"All told, customer’s bank accounts are emptier, and their wallets are lighter, while the utility will pocket huge sums of money that doubtfully will ever be returned to the people who paid it," Fasano said. "The lack of transparency during this ordeal, the promises not kept and the false hopes all are dashed with today’s announcement."

More Reaction

Rep. Richard Nugent (R), Florida District 11

"For the six hundred families who are directly affected by Duke Energy’s decision, this is going to be a devastating blow. But the economic impact of the decision goes far beyond just the workers employed at the plant. The plant has been a key economic engine in this community for thirty years and all of Citrus County will be affected in a very real way.
"Community leaders all over the county have been pushing Progress and then Duke Energy to repair the plant for years now, including myself. I know all parties involved have worked as hard as possible to find a solution for Citrus County and the focus will now shift to making sure that Citrus will be home to future investments by the company. In particular, the natural gas-fueled plant being considered by Duke would be a tremendous asset for the state and for the community for years to come and I plan on working with both the leaders in this community and Duke Energy in the coming months to find a viable way forward. It’s energy and it’s jobs and Central Florida desperately needs both. I know we’re all going to do everything we can.

"The employees affected by this closure are extremely capable engineers and operators and they are truly an asset to this community and to the industry. I am extremely hopeful that as the Crystal River facility is taken offline and as the Levy facility is brought online, that these employees will continue to find a home with Duke Energy. It’s a mighty tough day for Citrus County, but I know we’re all going to turn our eyes now to the future to see what is possible."

Joe Meek, Citrus County Commission Chairman

"While we are disappointed in the decision to retire the Crystal River Nuclear Plant (CR3), Citrus County is committed to continuing to work with Progress Energy/Duke as we move forward. We are dedicated to having a solid relationship with Progress Energy/Duke and are committed to working through these difficult issues with them. Progress Energy/Duke will continue to be a vital part of our community both with their employees and with their investment in our county.

As the Chairman of the County Commission and President of our Economic Development Council, we have been working closely with Progress Energy/Duke on multiple economic development initiatives in our community. We will continue to work with them, as Duke explores their options for finding alternatives to replace power generating capacity, and potentially build a natural gas-fuel plant in Citrus County. We have had discussions with Progress Energy/Duke executives, and will continue to work closely with them on this important issue.
The decision today removes uncertainty about the future of CR3 for Citrus County, and further highlights the importance for us to work to diversify our local economy. The decision also highlights the drastic budget issues we are facing as a community. The County Commission has been preparing for this decision, and has made balancing the budget and diversifying our local economy the top priority.

While this decision will have a major impact on our community, it will provide an opportunity to redefine our priorities. We are a wonderful community, with a bright future. As a local government, we are dedicated and determined to work with our citizens, businesses, and community to make sure we do everything we can to ensure we are a successful and thriving County."