In the last general election, Missourians overwhelmingly told utilities they want more clean and renewable energy. By 2021, Missouri could see 15 percent of its energy generated from the wind, sun and other renewable sources. Along with increased energy efficiency, this will have a positive impact on reducing Missouri’s carbon footprint.
Unfortunately, these positive steps alone cannot meet Missouri’s need for new, energy-efficient baseload power. Nuclear power is the cleanest available form of year-round, 24-hour baseload energy. That is why it makes common sense to encourage a balanced energy portfolio for Missouri that includes nuclear energy.
Now President Obama has called on Congress to authorize a cap on carbon emissions, to “truly transform our economy, protect our security and save our planet from the ravages of climate change.” A cleaner environment and green job creation would result from such a cap. Another result would be higher electric rates, especially in states like Missouri where coal is used to generate upwards of 85 percent of our electricity.
With carbon caps on the horizon, utilities will seek new, clean, baseload energy sources rather than face dramatically higher operating costs from old coal plants, some of them more than half a century old and massively expensive to upgrade. Thus it is critical for our state economy that Missouri leaders act now and encourage utilities to build new, clean, baseload energy plants with the least cost impact to consumers.
Coal may always be part of our state’s energy supply, but along with greater energy efficiency and more renewable sources such as wind and solar, clean nuclear energy is the way of the future for reliable baseload power.
The General Assembly and Gov. Jay Nixon have an opportunity, through approval and enactment of far-sighted legislation, to put a second nuclear plant into Missouri’s energy mix. They should act now to secure a clean, affordable and balanced energy portfolio for future generations.
Irl Scissors is executive director of Missourians for a Balanced Energy Future.