COLUMBIA – Three out of four City Council candidates say they support the building of a second nuclear power plant to help answer Columbia’s future energy needs.
In October, Mayor Darwin Hindman sent a letter to AmerenUE President and CEO Thomas Voss expressing his personal interest in a second nuclear plant that is proposed to be built in Callaway County. He later reaffirmed his stance, stating that he thought nuclear power to be a better future alternative to Columbia's municipal power plant.
Although nuclear power was not considered in the city's Integrated Resource Plan, a consultant-created document laying out options to fulfill Columbia's future energy needs, it has surfaced as an option since Hindman wrote his letter.
"I'd love to see you be able to count on a certain amount of power from there (the second plant)," Second Ward candidate Jason Thornhill said.
Second Ward candidate Allan Sharrock and Sixth Ward candidate Rod Robison both said they support Columbia’s involvement in the proposed Callaway plant, though Robison’s support was contingent upon the city receiving an amount of energy from the plant.
Sixth Ward incumbent Barbara Hoppe doesn’t share the same interest in the proposed plant the other candidates do.
“We'd have to look at the cost and benefit,” Hoppe said. “There's a lot of questions as to the cost.”
Hoppe said she would rather see the city practice more intensive demand side practices as outlined in the Integrated Resource Plan, such as promoting energy-efficient appliances and focusing on weatherizing homes and buildings to cut use.
“There are tons of possibilities there,” Hoppe said. “…It also reduces energy bills for tenants and homeowners.”
Thornhill, Sharrock and Robison all said they would also like to make Columbia a more efficient city. Sharrock, who said he personally keeps his thermostat low in the winter and plans on buying a more efficient flash-heating water heater once his current one fails, said it's necessary for citizens to make their homes more efficient.
Missourian reporter Andrew Van Dam contributed to this report.