JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri legislation sought by utilities as a potential first step toward a new nuclear power plant could be headed to the full Senate for debate.
A Senate committee has signed off on measure, and the chamber’s leaders say the full body could debate the bill as soon as this week.
Missouri utilities are asking the Legislature to allow them to charge customers for the cost of an early site permit from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
A state law approved by voters in 1976 currently bars utilities from charging customers for the costs of a new power plant before it starts producing electricity.
Power companies and other supporters of the legislation contend the early site permit is needed to move forward with possibly expanding nuclear power in Missouri.
However, consumers and industrial energy users are concerned about protections for ratepayers.
Missouri currently has one nuclear power plant, operated by Ameren Missouri, in Callaway County.
Last fall, a group of utilities that includes Ameren Missouri, Empire District Electric, Kansas City Power & Light, electric cooperatives and municipal utilities announced that they were considering seeking an early site permit for a second nuclear plant.
The permit would not specify a plant design or authorize construction, and the group has said it has not decided whether to build a second plant.
Gov. Jay Nixon endorsed the idea last fall, and a House committee has approved it. Since then, the public discussion has trailed off.
House leaders now say that before advancing their version they want to see what senators do, and progress in the
Senate has been much slower.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press