TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -

Duke Energy's may have decided to cancel plans to build the Levy nuclear plant, but customers will continue paying for decisions made by Duke until 2016.

Florida Power and Light will ask state regulators on Monday for permission to keep collecting for new nuclear plants in South Florida, but new legislation could keep the plants from being built.

Duke Energy customers will continue paying $3.45 a month until sometime in 2016 for the Levy nuclear plant that will never be built.

Public Counsel JR Kelly negotiated the deal.

"Those are monies that have already been expended by Duke," said Kelly.
In the end, Kelly said Duke decided the economics of nuclear no longer worked.

"The low price of natural gas, it just makes it almost a non-starter to attempt to build nuclear facilities today," said Kelly.

FPL, the state's other nuclear operator, will ask regulators for permission to keep collecting money from consumers. It's pursuing a license to build two nuclear plants. Those plants aren't expected to be online until 2022.

FPL now wants its average consumers to pay 48 cents a month as it pursues a nuclear license. That's down from $1.68, but the company wouldn't comment on Duke's plans to abandon its nuke plant.

In mid-July, FPL demolished an oil burning power plant to make way for a cleaner, cheaper natural gas. Some analysts now say gas is cheaper than nuclear over the life of a plant.

AARP hopes FPL reconsiders.

"And it just may be that they will reach a break-even point, just say, 'It's no longer in our best interests to continue with the plant,'" said ?AARP Associate State Director Charles Milsted.

The two reactors FPL wants to build are estimated to cost between $12 and $18 billion.

Duke customers will be on the hook for nuclear plants until at least 2036. That's because they will continue to pay monthly charges for the crippled Crystal River plan for 20 years. The charges kick in once they finish paying for the Levy plant that won’t be built.