U.S. Markets open in 8 hrs 11 mins

PSC staff recommends $292M nuclear pass-on in Fla.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- An environmental group is criticizing a Florida Public Service Commission staff recommendation to bill utility customers $292 million in costs related to future construction, expansion or upgrades of nuclear power plants.

Southern Alliance for Clean Energy's executive director Stephen Smith said Thursday that the recommendation puts power company profits ahead of consumers' best interests.

PSC staffers are proposing nuclear cost recovery charges next year of more than $150 million for Florida Power & Light Co. and $142 million for Progress Energy Florida. Florida Power is a unit of NextEra Energy Inc. and Progress Energy Florida is part of Duke Energy Corp.

The commission is to make a decision on Nov. 26.

State law permits annually billing customers for planned nuclear projects regardless of whether those plans are ever carried out. Utilities cannot bill customers for other kinds of power plants until they are operational.