Energy in Florida
An interview with the commissioner of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
FT: There’s been growing opposition to advanced financing of nuclear power projects across the state after delays in the proposed Levy County nuclear project have added billions to the price tag. At the same time, structural damage to the Crystal River nuclear plant and fumbled repairs have cost millions, and it’s unclear if that plant will ever reopen. Do these problems cast doubt on the future of nuclear energy in Florida?
AP: Taxpayers are angry at paying for something that may never come to fruition. In getting nuclear back on track, the goal is ratepayers would be paying for something that would come to fruition and that will over the long term provide low-cost electricity in addition to natural gas-fired plants. Nuclear in the long haul is the cheapest, but clearly it’s very expensive on the front end.
FT:What’s your position on drilling off Florida’s coast?
AP: I’m not hearing a push to reopen that debate. There continues to be concern about the Chinese and the Cubans drilling not too far off of the Florida Keys. When I was in Congress, I worked on an effort to open up 8.5 million acres in the eastern Gulf that also created a zone around the state that Florida would retain control over. I think that it appears that given the vast new discoveries of natural gas on land that the rational economic decision is to maximize those finds rather than looking offshore. From a near-shore perspective, I just don’t think it makes sense for Florida to have near-shore drilling especially given that we’ve discovered a century and a half’s new supply of natural gas.