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Florida utility to refund $5M to customers over nuclear plant outages

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(The Center Square) — The Florida Public Service Commission approved a settlement Tuesday that will allow Florida Power & Light to provide its customers with a reimbursement.

FPL will reimburse its customers $5 million after they were charged “replacement” power costs when the Turkey Point and St. Lucie nuclear plants experienced outages between 2020 and 2022.

According to PSC filings, the $5 million credit, including interest, would be included in the calculation of FPL’s fuel factors the next time the company resets them. In February, state regulators recommended that the PSC refund over $11 million due to an agency audit that cited mismanagement as the reason for more than 40 shutdowns at both power plants.

During a prehearing statement, the Office of Public Counsel, which represents customers, officially requested that PSC sign off on an agreement between the OPC and FPL to resolve the issue.

“The outcome is a win-win for customers and the utility. Customers benefit not just from the recovery of $5 million of replacement power cost but also from the FPL’s improved nuclear fleet for Florida, a fact acknowledged in the staff management audit back to 2021 and running through the present time,” Trierweiler said.

Trierweiler stated that the high level of performance benefits customers as they receive cost-effective, efficient, carbon-neutral nuclear power. He added that this enhances the reliability of the utility’s service and helps keep FPL’s electric rates lower than every other investor-owned ultimately in the Sunshine State.

Trierweiler noted that there is no doubt that FPL’s response to addressing outages in a timely and transparent manner helped return its nuclear fleet to operate once again at a high level.

The utility agreed to do a follow-up staff management audit no earlier than 2030, and Trierweiler pointed out that audits are important to ensure that the utility is running in an efficient manner while still delivering savings to customers.

“The purpose of a future audit is to provide a blinking light in the future, in the distance, to remind us that these performance metrics require constant vigilance,” Trierweiler said. “This reminder should only solidify FPL’s commitment to maintain and build on a continued high level of power plant performance, which will benefit customers.”