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Opinion: A case for nuclear power

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We’ve all seen the tragic events in Japan, and we can’t help but wonder what it means for nuclear power production here in the U.S. A review of the facts confirms that what happened in Japan is not cause for a change in energy policy.

All of the nuclear power plants operating in the U.S. are required to have detailed evacuation and emergency response procedures in place that would protect any residents in the event of an emergency. Additionally, plants constructed today in the U.S. are required meet stricter regulations and safety requirements and utilize newer technology.

Today, 80 percent of Missouri’s electricity comes from aging coal plants. Coal-fired plants have a lifetime of roughly 60 years; the average plant in Missouri is 40 years old. Many need to be retired or replaced soon. Also, federal regulations under consideration could make coal-generated electricity more expensive, while our demand for electricity is expected to increase significantly.

Increased nuclear power may be the most affordable option for continuing to meet our state’s electricity demand. And we know we can learn from the events in Japan to ensure that it is done safely. But it will not be happen without legislation to make it possible for our electricity providers to obtain a nuclear site permit – which keeps open the option to construct a second nuclear plant in Callaway County.

The nuclear site permit bill lays out a plan that strengthens our energy future while keeping rates low and protecting consumers. It requires that no funds can be recovered until the permit is obtained and expenditures are deemed prudent by the Missouri Public Service Commission. The costs, with interest, must be returned to consumers if the permit is sold to another company. And the legislation sets a hard cap on the recoverable funds of $45 million, less than $2 a year for the average residential consumer.

Missourians have been working for months with our elected officials. Twenty co-sponsors – a majority of the Senate – signed on in support of the measure. Recently, more than 70 business and community leaders from across Missouri traveled to Jefferson City to show support for the bill. We thank our legislators and citizens for their leadership on this issue and encourage all Missourians to continue to support nuclear power as a way forward for Missouri’s energy future.

—Irl Scissors, executive director, Missourians for a Balanced Energy Future[[In-content Ad]]

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