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LETTER: Just say no to Ameren's proposal

Wednesday, February 4, 2009 | 3:41 p.m. CST; updated 10:34 a.m. CST, Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Missourians passed an initiative in 1976 to ban raising electric rates while building a new power plant— known as Construction Work in Progress. Now a 25-page bill to repeal this ban is before the legislature. It is full of special interest regulations to shift all the risk of building Callaway II nuclear plant from Ameren to ratepayers. It gives Ameren a profit incentive to extend the construction time and to allow cost overruns.

If the project fails or is never built — a likelihood, since less expensive ways to meet our energy needs can come quicker — then customers will get nothing for their enforced risk capital.

Ameren is unwilling to make their shareholders assume this risk, and no private bank will lend them construction funds. If Callaway II is too risky for shareholders and banks, it's too risky for ratepayers. Supporters say it will create jobs years from now when construction actually begins, but in the near term, rate hikes could make us lose jobs in Missouri. High-energy businesses that are having difficulty in the recession now could fail if their rates go up. Other businesses might choose to go where no CWIP laws force higher rates years before any benefit is reaped, if ever.

Ameren has an excess capacity for power now and may never need more power plants. The quickest, cheapest way to meet our long-term energy needs is to retrofit homes, businesses and government buildings for greater energy efficiency, creating good-paying jobs right now to do the retrofitting.


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Comments

John Schultz February 4, 2009 | 7:22 p.m.

If there are "less expensive ways to meet our energy needs (that) can come quicker" as claimed by the letter writer, why wouldn't Ameren deploy those for less cost than Callway 2, quicker than Callaway 2, so they can bill their customers for that electricity and not worry about a future shortage? That claim doesn't quite pass the sniff test to me.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking February 4, 2009 | 8:01 p.m.

I've calculated that spending the cost of Callaway 2 on renewables and efficiency will result in a generating capacity deficit of about 400 MW relative to building it. (numbers on request - it's too long to post here) This will mean that more power will have to be generated with coal or natural gas (at a time when Ameren wants to shut down some of it's older and most polluting coal plants), or people will have to cope with rolling blackouts or other conservation. (I like conservation. Most people don't).

Plus, renewables and efficiency are an even harder sell to investors than nuclear. They're being asked to invest in a company that wants to make less product, and do part of it in unproven and expensive ways. Doesn't sound like a good plan to me.

DK

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr February 5, 2009 | 4:40 a.m.

I still just love this idea here if it can be developed properly:

http://cleantechnica.com/2008/11/09/mini...

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith February 5, 2009 | 7:33 a.m.

Some folks would oppose nuclear energy even if nuclear power plants could be built at no cost to anyone.

Some of us have first-hand experience living and working in countries where electrical power outages are a DAILY occurrence. Living and working under those circumstances is very difficult. IT COULD HAPPEN HERE!

(Report Comment)

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