Happy Holidays! FPL Awarded $196 Million For Nuclear Plants and You're Paying the Bill

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​It's that time again when Coca-Cola holiday commercials constantly remind you 'tis the season to be giving.

But every time you plug in that Christmas tree, electric Hanukkah ornament, or turkey carver, you're only donating to one company: Florida Power and Light.

Today, state regulators ignored arguments by consumer advocates and politicians, instead voting to allow FPL to raise $196 million in higher rates. That means a $2.09 monthly hike in your electricity bills come January.

As we wrote last month, Florida statues allow utility companies like FPL to "recover expenses" ahead of time for projected work on nuclear power plants. FPL argues that the nearly $200 million will go toward two new reactors at Turkey Point.

Construction hasn't yet begun, however. And South Miami politicians and consumer advocates have called "early cost recovery" a boondoggle since there is no guarantee that the two new reactors will ever be built.

But the state's Public Service Commission approved the hike anyway. "I find that the utility has done what the statutes has asked for,'' PSC Commissioner Ron Brise told the Miami Herald.

That means the average Miami-area FPL consumer will be paying $2 more per month in 2012.

Raising rates during a recession -- and after the Fukushima nuclear disaster -- for new reactors is a hard sell.

"The same people who would have been snake oil or swampland salesmen are now running the utilities," says Barry White, vice president of Citizens Allied for Safe Energy. "We need to put a stop to the bleeding of money towards reactors that will never be built."

FPL says the reactors will be built, and in the meantime some of the money will go toward upgrades that will lower costs in the short term.

"New Times readers should know that FPL's new nuclear projects are already underway," said company spokesman Mayco Villafaña last month. "More importantly, these projects are saving customers money today."

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