Public Policy Research Education and Advocacy
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: David Hughes
March 27, 2002 412/421-6072
CITIZEN POWER WELCOMES DUQUESNE LIGHT TRANSITION CHARGE COMPLETION AS “BETTER LATE THAN NEVER”. RATEPAYERS PAID BILLIONS FOR NUCLEAR PLANT
CONSTRUCTION COST OVERRUNS.
PITTSBURGH, March 27—Utility watchdog organization Citizen Power welcomed the completion of the Duquesne Light “transition charge”, but reminded ratepayers that this charge should never have been on customer bills in the first place. In addition, fast track collection of “stranded costs” is the real reason utilities pushed for electricity deregulation, according to Citizen Power.
“Utilities initially opposed deregulation. But once they realized they could collect on their bad nuclear investments faster than the rate plans already approved, they came on board,” said David Hughes, Executive Director of Citizen Power. “That was the deal, the Enrons wanted in the biggest business in the U.S. and the payoff to utilities was fast track collection of past investments,” Hughes said.
Duquesne Light is a clear example of this arrangement. “Duquesne Light ratepayers were charged for billions of dollars in construction mismanagement at Duquesne’s Perry 1and Beaver Valley 2 nuclear plants,” said Hughes. “The plants were supposed to cost $1 billion and ended up costing $10 billion. Ratepayers have been paying for these cost overruns since 1988 when the PUC made the terrible decision to allow Duquesne to collect them. But, with deregulation in 1999, the Governor and the PUC made sure we paid these costs even if we switched suppliers,” Hughes said.
“Citizen Power welcomes the completion of the ‘transition’ charge on Duquesne Light customer bills, but let’s call a spade a spade,” says Hughes. “If I take money from you that you really don’t owe me for 15 years and then tell you I am going to stop taking your money, you probably would not feel like I was doing you a favor. That’s what happened here. We should pay for plant investment, but not for construction mismanagement. Sure, it’s great this charge is coming off our bills, but it should never have been there in the first place,” Hughes concluded.