|Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham is calling on the legislature to protect Floridians from unfair utility taxes by repealing the advanced nuclear recovery tax and for a statutory ban on the utilities’ proposed fracking tax.
“Floridians should not be forced to pay for nuclear power plants that are never built or for fracking exploration,” Graham said. “For 20 years, the Republican politicians in Tallahassee have turned a blind eye to the Public Service Commission and utility companies as they’ve taxed seniors, small business owners and families. That ends when I’m elected governor.”
In 2006 Governor Jeb Bush signed SB 888 into law, which allowed Florida investor-owned utility companies to charge advanced fees for nuclear power plants that were never built. Since the legislation went into effect, the Public Service Commission (PSC) has approved more than $3 billion in new utility “fees,” which are ostensibly taxes, for nuclear power plants that were broken or never built.
“The Public Service Commission has become a rubber stamp for the utility companies to increase rates and charge utility taxes. Consumers have taken all the risk and are left with no reward — just billions in bills to pay for plants that will never be built,” said former Representative Dwight Dudley, who sponsored legislation to repeal the advanced nuclear recovery tax. “Gwen Graham is the first candidate for governor to raise this issue and pledge to repeal this utility tax. She will be the consumer advocate we desperately need in the governor’s office after 20 years of one-party rule.”
The watchdog group Integrity Florida recently labeled the PSC a “Captured Regulatory Agency,” meaning it has been captured under the influence of the very utilities it is responsible for regulating.
In 2015, the PSC sided with utilities over objections from the commission’s career staff and consumer advocates to allow the utility to charge Floridians as much as $500 million a year for unregulated natural gas fracking projects. The Supreme Court ruled the commission exceeded its authority by approving the new tax.
Tallahassee politicians have proposed legislation that would grant the PSC new authority to charge the fracking tax. Graham is pledging to fight that legislation and push for a statutory ban of the fracking tax, as governor.
“The Public Service Commission is out of control. As governor, I will appoint consumer advocates who will vote in Floridians best interests — not the special interests,” Graham said. “I will fight to repeal the advanced nuclear recovery taxes and to ban utilities from ever charging customers a speculative fracking tax.”
Graham also brought attention to the role Governor Rick Scott and the Republican candidates for governor have played in allowing special interests to dominate the PSC and charge new utility taxes.
“Rick Scott has appointed unqualified, industry-friendly commissioners. Adam Putnam voted to approve the construction of a $24-billion nuclear expansion that is unlikely to ever be built. As Speaker of the House, Richard Corcoran makes half of the appointments to the PSC Nominating Council — which has refused to consider consumer advocates for the PSC,” Graham said. “Their records make it clear that Corcoran and Putnam would continue to allow the Public Service Commission and utilities to charge Floridians with outrageous and unfair taxes.”