Guest Blog: Planning for the future
The editorial "The nuclear guy" (April 15) misses some important points. Even with recent rate increases, the utility has electric rates 30 percent below the national average. As a regulated utility, we are not talking about the free market. Just as costs can be recovered from ratepayers, any income the company makes is restricted to modest percentage above costs, and blunders on Ameren's part come out of the shareholders' pockets. There are no windfall profits. And to be honest, who are the winners? The unions, pension funds and individual families who have put money into a utility stock that offers modest, low-risk investments.
Planning for the future is necessary and costs money, whether it is solar, wind, nuclear or cleaner coal or any new energy source. For a regulated utility, the public should participate in that investment. In the end, the cost will be lower as less money must be borrowed to build the plant. Not planning for and investing in the future leaves us dependent on coal, which emits the most greenhouse gases, and natural gas, which can gyrate wildly in price.
Why would a utility want to invest in nuclear power (and subject itself to large capital investments, Nuclear Regulatory Commission regulations and public debates about the perceived dangers of nuclear) if it wasn't one of the least expensive ways to provide clean, affordable electricity to its customers?
- St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 22
William H. Miller • Columbia, Mo.
Professor Emeritus, Missouri University Research Reactor