Nixon announces plan for nuclear power plant legislation

Friday, November 19, 2010 | 6:40 p.m. CST; updated 8:41 p.m. CST, Friday, November 19, 2010
The cooling tower and Callaway Nuclear Plant, located near Fulton, releases pressurized water waste on Friday. The tower at Callaway is 553 feet tall. Governor Jay Nixon and state-wide utilities are pushing for legislation that would help cover the costs of an early site permit for a possible new plant.

COLUMBIA — Gov. Jay Nixon announced Friday that he plans to work with statewide energy companies on legislation to recover the costs of an early site permit for a second nuclear power plant in Callaway County.

An early site permit verifies the environmental suitability and safety of a possible power plant site and usually takes three to four years to obtain. It allows for the development of a new plant by approving the proposed build site.

Nixon said the permit would cost about $40 million, and utility customers would pay an extra $1 to $2 per year, The Associated Press reported. If approved, the permit would be valid for 20 years and could be renewed for an additional 10 to 20 years.

Ameren Missouri, which was known as AmerenUE until this October, has a nuclear facility near Fulton. A new nuclear power plant would be built on the same site as this existing facility, if the project was approved.

A state law created in 1976 prevents utilities from billing customers for building costs. Last year, lawmakers explored measures that would lower the financing costs, but the measure failed. The new legislation would deal specifically with the cost of an early site permit.

Nixon said ratepayers will not pay for the permit unless his proposed legislation passes. The Missouri Public Service Commission would have to approve any rate hikes.

Consumer advocates said Friday the new proposal could force customers to pay millions of dollars before they can benefit from the power plant, the AP reported.

The Fair Energy Rate Action Fund, a Missouri-based consumer and employer group, stated it is pleased with Nixon’s plan but recommends customer protection provisions for the legislation, according to a news release.

The group has suggested three provisions:

  • Provide more funding for the Office of Public Counsel so that it can conduct efficient audits of rate cases filed with the Public Service Commission.
  • Put a limit on future rate increases to keep energy prices low.
  • Give a refund to ratepayers if a plant is not built or if the permit is sold for profit.

The utilities involved in the planning process include Ameren Missouri, the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives, Kansas City Power & Light and the Missouri Public Utility Alliance.

If a new plant is built, it will not necessarily be an Ameren project, Ameren Missouri spokesman Mike Cleary said.

Cleary said Missouri currently gets about 80 percent of its electricity from coal, but many of the plants will be wearing out in a few years. Environmental regulations are becoming harder for the plants to meet, which Cleary said makes nuclear power “very attractive."

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Yves Montclear November 19, 2010 | 11:31 p.m.

If Mid-Missouri wants jobs, this is the way to get them. You want that new nuclear plant.

That will be a huge project for many years.

And even after the long construction phase, will supply great jobs at the plant, and reliable electric power needed to take Mid-Missouri into the future.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith November 20, 2010 | 6:32 a.m.

Last September a small celebration was held on the Missouri University of Science and Technology campus. It was the 50th birthday of Missouri's oldest nuclear reactor, a facility very much still in daily operation.

Some of us can still recall when this facility was constructed, and when certain people lost no opportunity to make comments about how "dangerous" it might become. We find it so dangerous that it is sited, on our campus, only about 100 feet from Parker Hall, our principal administration building. That is equivalent to MU placing their reactor between the north side of Jesse Hall and the Columns.

(Report Comment)
Justin Ritter November 20, 2010 | 3:53 p.m.

Yes, to nuclear energy.

(Report Comment)
Yves Montclear November 20, 2010 | 4:19 p.m.

If you want jobs in the Mid-Missouri area, this is it.

Even after the huge construction phase, there will be great jobs available, for a long time to come, all down the 'power line' (if you'll pardon my pun).

It will give Mid-Missouri another reliable electric source it needs, to step up, into the future.

(Report Comment)

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