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

Comments (8)
  1. Brian Kelly says:

    This is a test comment.

    1. Doug McElvein says:

      You passed….

  2. Ed says:

    Nuclear power is not alternative in the sense that it is renewable. It burns fuel and creates waste. It’s not hard to argue the waste from nuclear power is the worst byproduct from energy production known to man.

    What’s lacking in the poll is how Ameren will fund a second nuclear reactor. Ameren tried but failed in 2009 to have consumers pay for all the upfront costs of a second nuclear reactor. Now they are using a slight-of-hand technique that chips away at a 35 year old consumer protection law. Nuclear power doesn’t even make economic sense.

    Think about this. The nuclear reactor design that Ameren wanted to build in 2008-2009 is now estimated to cost $9 billion or more. The best case scenario for completion would be the mid 2020’s and that is unlikely. I’m not trying tell sell natural gas, but if Ameren wanted a lower cost option of delivering base load power, which would help minimize electric rate increases for their consumers like me, a natural gas power plant is certainly more viable. The EPA just cleared a 600 Megawatt natural gas plant to be constructed in California at the cost of $530 million and a completion date of 2013. This power plant is large enough to power 450,000 homes. My point is that 10% of $9 billion looks more attractive to Ameren’s shareholders than 10% of $530,000.

  3. Ed says:

    The 10% I reference is the guaranteed profit Ameren receives for being a regulated monopoly. If you were an Ameren stockholder, would you rather have 10% of millions or 10% of billions.

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