On Thursday, April 19, Missouri’s energy future took a giant leap forward as investor-owned, cooperative and municipal utilities announced that they are partnering with Westinghouse Electric Company to apply to the Department of Energy’s Small Modular Reactors (SMR) investment fund for up to $452 million. The funding will support engineering, design certification and licensing for SMRs in Missouri.
I expected that the week before the legislature’s spring break would be relatively mundane in preparation for significant actions when session resumes on March 19th. This assumption was incorrect, and I have never been more pleased with an incorrect assumption. This week saw marked progress on early site permit legislation which is the first critical step toward securing Missouri’s energy future, building additional nuclear capacity at the current Callaway site, putting thousands of Missourians back to work, and injecting billions of dollars into Missouri’s economy.
Big news out the House Utilities Committee this week as House Bill 1316, a bill that could lead to the construction a second nuclear power plant in Missouri, was adopted this morning by a vote of 17-2, with one member voting present.
On Tuesday afternoon the Commerce Committee continued hearings on SB759 which would clarify provisions in Proposition C and would prevent radical environmentalists and large industrials from conspiring together on an initiative petition to increase Missouri’s renewable standard requirements. The marriage between the radical environmentalists and these large industrials is proof positive that politics does indeed make strange bed-fellows. The large industrials are not concerned about the environment or the amount of renewable energy in the state’s portfolio. They simply want to lower their exposure to the cost of meeting the renewable standards currently required by law. To do that, they joined with the radical environmentalists, sitting at the same drafting table, and authored an initiative petition that, if passed, would dramatically raise the costs for residential customers, small and medium-sized businesses to meet Missouri’s renewable standard. Quite simply, these select few large industrial companies made a pact with the anti-small business, anti-consumer, environmentalists to save themselves a ton of money and to leave you and I to pick up the tab for their savings.
In 2008, Missouri voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure that would increase our use of renewable energy in Missouri. A key component of that measure was a 1 percent cost cap, which was put in place to preserve Missouri’s already low electric rates.
Major news out of Washington, D. C. as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved the licenses for construction of the first new nuclear reactors since 1978. The state of Georgia will see an influx of over 5,000 new jobs and billions in economic activity as construction begins. (AP report)
"I have been asked repeatedly this year why, if it is such a high priority, I have not filed Early Site Permit legislation that is the critical first step toward building additional nuclear capacity at the current Callaway site. My first response is that the need for additional nuclear power production at the current Callaway site increases every day. Missourian’s electric bills continue to rise because we are far too dependent upon an old coal fleet that the federal government has put directly in their cross-hairs. Beyond that, securing an early site permit is the first step toward thousands of good, high-paying, long-term jobs. Secondly, I respond that there has been legislation filed by Representative Riddle in the House, legislation that was overwhelmingly supported last year and legislation that will receive tremendous bi-partisan support when it comes over to the Senate. Thirdly, I respond that there is still a great deal of time left to file bills in the Senate. I talk about ESP legislation with my fellow Senators daily and I am confident that the great support I had last year has only grown. However, I still have no indications that the roadblocks, half-truths, and political games that sabotaged the process in the Senate last year can be avoided until next year. As you may have seen, the Southern Company in Georgia was just granted licensure for the construction of the first two nuclear reactors in the United States in more than 30 years. Had our ESP legislation passed last year, it might have been Missouri leading the way in the nuclear renaissance in the United States. I am hopeful that the coming weeks will provide opportunity for a caucus meeting in the Senate where legislation that will lead to thousands of ‘boots on the ground’ jobs can be discussed, so that we can take the next step forward in securing Missouri’s energy future and putting Missourians to work in the long-term, high-paying jobs that building additional nuclear capacity will create."
As Missouri struggles to advance statewide economic development and energy policies, small businesses are feeling the pressure. When it comes to energy, a perfect storm is brewing that could threaten our states low energy rates, ultimately harming small businesses.