Duke Energy bill not doomed by Senate changes, key House supporter says

duke energy

A bill that would allow Duke Energy Florida to issue bonds for the shutdown of its Crystal River nuclear plant isn’t necessarily doomed in the House because of bill changes made by the Senate on Friday, a leading House supporter said.

HB 7109 allows Duke Energy Florida to issue bonds for the $1.4 billion nuclear plant shutdown, a move that Sen. Jack Latvala said would save an estimated $600 million for customers.

The bill also was amended Friday to require the Public Service Commission to hold meetings in the service areas of the states four largest utilities. It also requires utilities to refund excess deposits to customers after a one-year period.

The Senate passed the bill 39-0 and sent it back to the House after Latvala, a Republican from St. Petersburg who was sponsor of the Senate bill version, answered concerns that the changes could doom the bill.

“I don’t think this is going to kill the bill, but the responsibility for that will be over there,” Latvala told Senators on Thursday.

Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, a Republican from Miami-Dade County who is chairman of the House Regulatory Affairs Committee, said he didn’t think the amendments doomed the bill in the House.

“It is an important bill to a lot of people,” Diaz said after the bill passed the Senate on Friday. “I am very much involved in discussing it with the leadership team in figuring out hopefully with how to bring it in for a landing.”

In fact, he said he had proposed the same amendments but withdrew them because of concerns that the Senate wouldn’t accept changes. But he also said he’s not sure how the amendments will affect the bill.

“I don’t want to say because it’s a decision to be made by the whole chamber and not just by me,” Diaz said.

Latvala said Friday that “folks in the hall,” presumably utilities’ lobbyists, were not happy with the bill.

The amended bill requires the PSC to hold rate hearings every other year in the service territories of the state’s four largest electric utilities: Duke Energy Florida, Florida Power & Light Co., Gulf Power Co., and Tampa Electric.

HB 7109 also would limit PSC members to three four-year terms and require those who lobby to register the PSC Nominating Council to register as lobbyists.

Bruce Ritchie (@bruceritchie) covers environment, energy and growth management in Tallahassee. 

Bruce Ritchie


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