Today's Question: To build or not to build second nuclear plant in Callaway County

Monday, March 30, 2009 | 8:49 a.m. CDT; updated 11:13 a.m. CDT, Monday, March 30, 2009

While state legislators continue to debate whether to allow AmerenUE to charge customers for the construction of a new nuclear power plant in Callaway County before it is completed, Columbia City Council members and Mayor Darwin Hindman are debating what to do when and if it is built.

Hindman has already sent a letter to AmerenUE President and CEO Thomas Voss saying he is interested in the power the plan could provide for Columbia, replacing or adding to what is generated at the coal-powered Municipal Power Plant.

Current council members were almost unanimously critical of Hindman for expressing his personal opinion under the city letterhead, but they have yet to reach any sort of consensus on the project.

Council member Barbara Hoppe, who is running for re-election in the Sixth Ward, told the Missourian that she is concerned about the cost of the project, which was never a part of Columbia’s plan for future energy needs. Other council candidates said they would support getting power from the plant under varying circumstances.

A lot of information important to voting is still not known. There is still no go-ahead for the plant to be built and it is not known how much power would be provided or how much it would cost. The construction of a nuclear power plant and how the energy would be used is a debate that is going to continue for months.

Do you think Columbia should continue to seek more information about getting power from a new nuclear power plant?

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Mark Foecking March 30, 2009 | 11:39 a.m.

Of course they should seek more information - more information is always better than less. Trouble is most people, on both sides of the question, have already made up their minds on the issue.


(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr March 30, 2009 | 11:41 a.m.

Once again have to ask you citizens and politicians reading this news paper here why we are not hearing of this form of Nuclear Energy source here in the states:

Nuclear power plants smaller than a garden shed and able to power 20,000 homes will be on sale within five years, say scientists at Los Alamos, the US government laboratory which developed the first atomic bomb.

The miniature reactors will be factory-sealed, contain no weapons-grade material, have no moving parts and will be nearly impossible to steal because they will be encased in concrete and buried underground.

The US government has licensed the technology to Hyperion, a New Mexico-based company which said last week that it has taken its first firm orders and plans to start mass production within five years. 'Our goal is to generate electricity for 10 cents a kilowatt hour anywhere in the world,' said John Deal, chief executive of Hyperion. 'They will cost approximately $25m [£16m] each. For a community with 10,000 households, that is a very affordable $2,500 per home.'

Deal claims to have more than 100 firm orders, largely from the oil and electricity industries, but says the company is also targeting developing countries and isolated communities. 'It's leapfrog technology,' he said.

The company plans to set up three factories to produce 4,000 plants between 2013 and 2023. 'We already have a pipeline for 100 reactors, and we are taking our time to tool up to mass-produce this reactor.'

(Report Comment)
Linda Green March 31, 2009 | 6:32 p.m.

I agree with Mark that more information is better than less. And accurate information is so important, or we are basing our decision upon myths.

One myth is that nuclear power in France is safe and doing well. Here's information to debunk that: France's nuclear program has polluted the sea all the way up to the Arctic Ocean and has massively polluted the English Channel, it's breeder reactor program has failed, and its poisonous nuclear waste is piling up with nowhere to go. France's nationally-owned nuclear conglomerate is begging the French government for billions in bailout money.

The lure of building a nuke plant to create more jobs is shaky also, because the same money spent on conservation would give us permanent jobs all over the state, not just temporary construction jobs in Callaway Co.

The mantra of pay less now or pay more later is a big risk because Ameren could make consumers pay for years and then quit building the plant and customers would get nothing for their money.

Why would AmerenUE's customers want a 100% chance to pay a "40-50%" utility rate hike for a new nuclear plant which AmerenUE admits has only a "25%" chance of ever being built (quote Sen. Kurt Schaefer, Columbia Tribune Feb. 24, '09)? These are terrible odds stacked against the consumer.

Whatever for-profit AmerenUE says has to be regarded as in the category of a commercial, rather than information upon which to base a decision.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro March 31, 2009 | 10:43 p.m.

"Today's Question: To build or not to build second nuclear plant in Callaway County"
I think we should build the third one first.
If that works out, then go ahead with the plan to build the second one.

(Report Comment)

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