A new local group is calling on the governor to give Duke Energy customers their money back.
It's become a contentious topic that's now a focus in the race for governor. Residents are being charged higher electric rates for two failed energy plants.
"$1,900 per customer, that's what they've ripped us off," says St. Petersburg resident Frank Lupo. Lupo has been paying his electric bill for nearly three decades. He says the shocking part of his Duke Energy Bill is the $3.2 billion dollar charge passed on to 1.7 million Duke Energy customers for the company's two nuclear power projects that aren't even operational.
"One at Crystal River, and one at Levy. One was abandon, one they canceled. Of course you would think they collected our money, they've done nothing with our money, we want our money back," says Lupo.
10 News took Lupo's concerns, and the concerns of the group Floridians for Fair Rates straight to Duke Energy.
"The law passed in 2006 that allows utilities to recover costs from customers as it relates to nuclear construction and capacity," says Nicole LeBeau from Duke Energy.
The blame game for the law has begun in the gubernatorial race. In response to NextGen Climate Action's ad falsely attacking Gov. Rick Scott on nuclear power plants, the Republican Party of Florida is launching a new TV ad, "Crist's Giveaway." The ad highlights how Charlie Crist made it easier for utilities to take more of their customers' money and how Scott protected ratepayers.
In a commercial from the political action committee NextGen Climate, the group accused the Republican incumbent of not stopping Duke Energy from collecting an advance fee for two failed nuclear projects.
VIDEO: Watch ad by NextGen Climate
"One defective power plant. Another never built. Florida fleeced by Duke Energy. Rick Scott knew, but he's letting Duke keep collecting billions anyway," the ad says.
The Republican Party of Florida says, "In response to NextGen Climate Action's ad falsely attacking Governor Rick Scott on nuclear power plants, the Republican Party of Florida is launching a new TV ad, 'Crist's Giveaway.' The ad highlights how Charlie Crist made it easier for utilities to take more of their customers' money and how Governor Scott protected ratepayers.
The ad says, "Crist made it easier for Duke Energy to take your money. Crist signed a law helping Duke Energy get billions."
VIDEO:Watch the GOP's ad
Scott's campaign argues that the governor amended the law last year, to help protect customers and make utilities more accountable.
Right now, under Scott and the Public Service Commission, Duke Energy can still charge those rates.
In a statement Duke Energy says: "The Florida Legislature passed the Renewable Technology and Energy Efficiency Act in 2006. Under that act, utilities may recover the costs associated with new nuclear energy and the construction of new nuclear plants from customers. Under those rules, the utility may only recover from customers the costs that the FPSC deems to have been reasonably and prudently incurred by the utility. If the FPSC determines that investments were reasonable and prudent, as they have in the past, customers may pay some amount even if the project is never completed. The FPSC conducts annual prudence reviews, which allow for input from all stakeholders, including customers and consumer advocates.
Our nuclear investments in the Levy plant to date include the following: The company has purchased 5,200 acres of land, researched and selected a preferred route for about 200 miles of transmission lines, purchased some long-lead time equipment and secured commitments for other large pieces of long-lead equipment. Duke Energy continues to pursue, at the company's cost, a license for the Levy County site from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. "
Rep. Kathy Castor believes Florida needs to be more energy efficient to benefit consumers.