Who opposes the Florida nuclear tax? Florida seniors!

Did you know that, according to a recent poll by the Florida AARP of its members (see page 3), a majority of seniors agreed that raising electric rates for new nuclear reactor proposals that may never be completed is bad business? Seniors are clearly getting the worst end of this deal, with no guarantees that they will reap any benefits from their forced investments. This is important for Florida state lawmakers to acknowledge as they continue to debate the controversial “nuclear cost recovery” tax during the remaining weeks of the legislative session.

According to the poll results, when asked to consider reasons for supporting and opposing the law, most Floridians age 50 and older oppose it, with 44 percent saying they strongly oppose it and just 5 percent indicating strong support for the law. This represents a clear 8 to 1 margin.

Remarkably, political party affiliation did not influence opposition to the anti-consumer law, with strong opposition expressed by 46% of Democrats, 43% of Republicans, and 41% of Independents. When given reasons to support the law, seniors’ attitudes showed little change. However, more than half of the respondents opposed the law “a lot more” after being given reasons to oppose. Overall, 44% of respondents strongly oppose this unfair practice. Clearly, those seniors polled understand the anti-consumer effects of this legislation, making it a top legislative priority for them to have addressed in 2013.

The fate of Florida’s “nuclear tax” may soon be decided depending on what the State Legislature does — discussions have been underway and votes could even happen on a Senate bill that aims to correct some of the law’s many problems. As we’ve shared previously, AARP filed a Friend of the Court brief in support of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy’s challenge of this statute before Florida’s Supreme Court. Though we are still awaiting a decision from our case presented in October 2012, Florida’s voters are awaiting some movement from their state lawmakers to clearly show that they are representing and protecting Florida’s citizens, not just looking out for the interests of the big power companies. Now’s the time to let them know what you think.

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Senior Oppose Nuclear Energy? Not So Fast.

This article gets it wrong. It would be the REPEAL of pay-as-you-go financing that would most hurt senior citizens. The REPEAL would result in less clean air and less cost savings. It is the REPEAL of Florida’s pay-as-you-go nuclear financing law that would be the real tax… a tax on clean air and a tax on cost savings.

Of course, anti-nuclear activists try to convince some people (including some seniors) that the current law results in higher costs. Those activists have also suggested that senior citizens oppose nuclear plants because construction of such plants may not occur until far in the future.
They are wrong on both counts.

New nuclear plants save millions in avoided fossil fuel purchases. Also, these activists incorrectly conclude that seniors don’t care about the future including cleaner air. This dark view about how senior citizens think is false. These activists should be ashamed of this tactic. Seniors DO care about the future.

Next time you run into one of these activists ask them whether they believe seniors oppose construction of schools for future generation of children? construction of aircraft carriers for the defense that will defend future generations of Americans? or construction of centralized sewer systems that will protect our environment far into the future? These activists will have no logical answer. They will be left with nothing but the false notion that seniors apply some selfish test whereby they only support infrastructure that will completed or fully used during their lifetime. This is NOT how senior citizens think. It is shameful that activists would attempt to exploit the alleged views of seniors by suggesting a false narrative to fit the political goals of these activists groups.

Moreover, Florida’s pay-as-you-go-financing has worked. It already produced over 500 Megawatts of zero-emission new nuclear generation from expansions of existing plants. This quantity is equivalent to a medium size power plant. That new nuclear generation will be supplying electricity for decades and offsets that quantity that otherwise would have been generated using fossil fuel combustion. The avoided costs of those fossil fuel purchases exceeds $4 billion which is more than the cost of the expansions themselves.

Nuclear energy is the only form of base-load electricity supply that emits no carbon or other greenhouse gases. Anyone who truly wants cleaner air, including most all of my fellow nuclear engineers, understand that nuclear energy must play a role.

Senior citizens DO care about cleaner air and cost savings. Do not let anyone or any opinion article convince you otherwise.

Jerry Paul
Energy Information Center
Venice, Florida

Comment by jerry paul on April 25, 2013 7:23 am

Thanks for Mr. Paul’s comments, a nuclear engineer and former Florida state legislator. However, it should be noted that the blog he references was based on the survey results that FL AARP conducted of its own members earlier this year. The strong results of which led the organization to decide that opposing the nuclear fee would be one of their top legislative priorities in 2013. Additionally, AARP, which is the largest non-partisan, non-profit organization representing the interests of people 50 and older, felt strongly enough about the unfairness of the nuclear cost recovery statute and filed an amicus brief with the Florida Supreme Court in support of SACE’s challenge of the law. I encourage everyone to read it in full. An excerpt states:

Regulators of utility monopolies are obligated to protect captive consumers from paying unjust rates. Reliance on traditional prudence standards to protect consumers is only effective in the context of an after-the-fact review. Absent appropriate statutory guidance on how to protect consumers during advance cost recovery, the Florida Public Service Commission has arbitrarily authorized unfair rates. Consumers are substantially harmed because they are forced to pay for plants from which many will not live to receive any benefits.

The abandonment of the troubled Crystal River reactor provides proof right here in Florida that nuclear cost recovery doesn’t work. Ratepayers were tapped for costs in advance, allowed by the cost recovery statute, to increase the reactor’s capacity only to have the plagued project fail. Not a kilowatt of electricity was produced but billions were spent.

Further, though reactors do not release carbon dioxide they do generate highly radioactive, long-lived nuclear waste that must remain isolated from the environment and humans for tens of thousands of years. That reality, the burden of leaving future generations with a highly toxic, dangerous waste legacy, is certainly something that not only seniors, but much of our society worries about. Tomorrow also happens to mark the anniversary of the tragic nuclear accident at Chernobyl in the former Soviet Union in 1986, which caused deaths, increases in thyroid cancer, financial impacts and nearly permanent contamination of lands, among other effects. Thus, nuclear proponents’ constant claims of ‘safe, clean & affordable’ couldn’t be further from the truth.

Comment by Sara Barczak on April 25, 2013 11:10 am

Seniors will lose-out if a nuclear power plant IS built, too.


(1) Nuclear power plants release dangerous radiation into the environment during their “normal” operations. This radiation can cause cancer, and is found in the surrounding water, air, vegetables, beef, fish, etc.

Google: “NRC Radioactive Effluent Environmental Report” to see what all 104 nuclear power plants in the U.S. are releasing into the environment.

(2) In addition, seniors and 20,000 generations of their families will have to pay to store dangerous nuclear waste such as Plutonium which is created during the nuclear process.

Plutonium is radioactive for 240,000 years and will need to be stored and secured for that long!

Talk about long-term debt!

(3) Studies show higher incidences of childhood leukemia in children living around nuclear power plants. Other studies have shown higher incidences of breast, pancreatic, thyroid and other cancers.

So seniors, children, and everyone unfortunate enough to be exposed to nuclear radiation could end up paying a fortune for medical costs.

(4) Nuclear energy is not worth the risks.

Nuclear energy only provides 8% of the energy in the U.S.

That energy could easily be conserved or replaced with efficient appliances and transmission efficiencies.

(5) Seniors and all of us pay to insure every nuclear power plant under the “Price-Anderson Act.”

It costs $340 million dollars to insure ONE nuclear power plant.

Most seniors can barely afford their own car insurance, yet their taxes go to pay the insurance on nuclear power plants.

(6) Renewable Energy provides energy without the pollution; without the risks; and without the need for a fuel such as oil, gas or uranium.

Everyone wanting to understand more about the downside of nuclear energy should read the stories on the highly recommended site:

www (dot) enenews (dot) com

Comment by Mr. Dee on April 26, 2013 3:20 am

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