Nuclear plant bill approved by Missouri House Utilities Committee

By Dorothy Davis   

The House Utilities Committee in Missouri voted 21-2 Tuesday to approve legislation that would permit power companies to recoup costs associated with the possible development of a second nuclear power plant from consumers.

House Bill 124 would allow utilities to recover the cost of retaining an early site permit from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission from consumers. Current estimates put costs to the average ratepayer at less than $2 per year and could not be recovered by power companies until after the permit is granted. 

The legislation would also require power companies to provide detailed reports outlining all expenses related to obtaining the early site permit for review and approval by state utility regulators before costs could be added to electric rates.

The measure challenges a 1976 law that currently bars utilities from recovering costs from consumers for a new power plant until it begins producing electricity.

In November a consortium of electric power generators announced they would begin the process of securing an early site permit to possibly build a second nuclear reactor at Ameren's Callaway station in central Missouri.

Partners in the consortium include Ameren Missouri; Associated Electric Cooperative Inc.; Empire District Electric; the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives; Kansas City Power & Light; and the Missouri Public Utility Alliance.

Democratic Governor Jay Nixon has been a strong advocate of the bill, saying approval would begin the process of building a power plant in central Missouri that would create thousands of jobs.

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