The following is an opinion piece written by Florida For All.
Annette Taddeo-Goldstein, Chair of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party, South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard and Pinecrest Mayor Cindy Lerner protested Governor Rick Scott’s decision to give the go-ahead to Florida Power & Light’s plan to build two nuclear reactors and high-voltage power lines.
It came on the heels of a vote by Scott and the state cabinet to approve a contentious FP&L proposal to expand the Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant by adding the reactors and 90 miles of power lines that will cut through densely populated areas and brush up against ecologically sensitive areas.
“The vote was a crime against the safety of the citizens of Miami-Dade County,” said South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard. “It was an economic crime and it was a crime against the environment.”
The politicians blasted Scott for choosing to side with FP&L, a large contributor to his re-election campaign, over local residents and business owners. Scott’s election committee “Let’s Get to Work” has raked in more than $1 million in campaign contributions from utility companies — $550,000 alone from FP&L.
“It comes as no surprise that Gov. Scott has prioritized a huge corporation over Florida’s people yet again,” said Miami-Dade Democratic Party chair Annette Taddeo- Goldstein. “But this decision is a huge affront to the thousands of Miami voters who oppose it.”
The high-voltage power lines will cut through Cutler Bay, Pinecrest, South Miami, Coconut Grove and Coral Gables. The towers, which could be 150 feet high, will be built alongside the Metrorail and down US-1, past retail stores, small businesses and auto dealerships. The power lines through the western part of the state will hug the edge of the Everglades National Park. Critics say the projects will negatively impact property values and the local economy. They also warn of the dangers of expanding a nuclear facility in a state that is prone to frequent hurricanes and vulnerable to climate-change related flooding.
“You’d be hard pressed to find a worse place to build a nuclear power plant than between two national parks on a hurricane- swept coastline,” said Stoddard. “First, it’s an issue of public safety. We are on a peninsula and we are not well protected in the event of a storm surge striking a nuclear power plant.”
The area leaders also charged that FPL’s preference for nuclear energy — as opposed to cheaper and greener alternatives such as solar — is because utility companies are allowed to charge customers for construction of nuclear power plants before they are built, under the state’s nuclear cost recovery fee known as the “utility tax.” Energy companies are not required to reimburse the fees collected even if the nuclear projects never come to fruition.
Progress/Duke Energy consumers, including those in Central Florida, are on the hook for $3.2 billion for nuclear energy plants that aren’t even producing energy.
“How long will the people of Florida let FPL dictate bad energy policies to Governor Scott and the legislature?” said Mayor Lerner. “When will we see real leadership for true energy efficiencies, and to maximize renewable energy in the sunshine state?”