Is Cash Warming Doyle to Nuclear Option?

New owners of Point Beach plant made big donations to governor
shortly before Doyle shifted his position on nuclear energy

September 3, 2008

Madison - Executives of a Florida utility with large stakes in nuclear and wind power contributed nearly $24,000 to Democratic Governor Jim Doyle a little more than a month before Doyle announced he was willing to consider new nuclear plants as a future energy option, the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign has found.

Doyle’s latest campaign finance report shows 30 executives, and one of their spouses, with Florida Power & Light Company and three of its nuclear power plants contributed $23,750 to the governor on June 27, 2008 (see Table). No employees of Florida Power & Light or their three nuclear power plants in Florida, Iowa and New Hampshire had contributed to Wisconsin legislative or statewide candidates before.

Florida Power purchased the Point Beach nuclear power plant near Two Rivers from WE Energies in October 2007 for $924 million. The utility, which says it’s one of the largest owners and operators of wind turbines in the world, also has operated the Montfort wind power project near Dodgeville since 2001. The two-reactor Point Beach plant was originally designed for four reactors, and the ban would have to be lifted for more reactors to be added. Part of the Point Beach sales agreement gives WE Energies the option to own up to 40 percent of any power plant – nuclear, coal or natural gas – Florida Power is allowed to build at Point Beach in the future.

WE Energies is one of Doyle’s biggest contributors, with $121,360 coming from company executives and its political action committee from 2002 through June 30, 2008, including $15,000 in the first six months of this year.

Wisconsin’s 25-year-old ban on new nuclear power plant construction was an issue in the 2006 campaign for governor with Doyle supporting the ban and GOP candidate Mark Green opposing it.

But on August 6 – six weeks after the contributions by Florida Power executives – Doyle said he was open to studying the possibility of new nuclear power plants in Wisconsin. His statement followed the July 24 release of a report by his Task Force on Global Warming which made numerous traditional and alternative energy recommendations for the future, including modifying Wisconsin’s current ban on new nuclear power plants to let them be considered. The task force also recommended creating statewide standards for siting sometimes-controversial wind power projects.

Table: Florida Power & Light Contributors

Contributions To Governor Jim Doyle From Executives Of Florida Power And
Light Company And Three Of Its Nuclear Power Plants On June 27, 2008

Name Occupation Amount Report Page #
Deborah H. Caplan Vice president $1,000 17
John Didonato Executive director $500 21
Richard L. Anderson Vice president
-Duane Arnold Nuclear Power Plant
$500 48
Mark E. Warner Vice president $500 49
Larry O. Martin Vice president $1,000 61
James L. Robo and
Meredith B. Trim
Chief operating officer/
Self-employed attorney
Gregory Schneck Vice president $500 73
James P. Higgins Vice president $500 90
Mark R. Sorenson Vice president $500 107
Don E. Grissette Vice president $500 118
Ryan K. O’Keefe Senior vice president-development $250 127
Ron Scheirer Vice president $500 137
James H. McCarthy Vice president $500 154
Dennis M. Klinger Vice president $500 167
Gordon L. Johnston Vice president
-St. Lucie Nuclear Plant
$500 182
Michael A. O’Sullivan Vice president $500 189
Robert B. Sendler Vice president $500 198
Gene St. Pierre Vice president
-Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant
$500 201
K.M. Davis Vice president $500 209
Mano Nazar Vice president $1,000 219
Manuel A. Sanchez Vice president $500 228
John A. Stall Vice president $1,000 234
Terry O. Jones Vice president $500 246
Mark Palanchian Vice president $500 253
Mitchell S. Ross President $500 257
John L. Seymour III Executive director $500 263
Keyvan Bohloohli Vice president $500 271
Matt S. Handel Vice president $500 308
Rajiv S. Kundalkar Vice president-nuclear engineering $500 311
Ronald R. Reagan Vice president $500 317
TOTAL $23,750