coal-fired plants. Even so, some state legislators, mindful of both environmental and economic factors, think the state's 1996 ban on nuclear energy should be overturned. Sen. Brooks McCabe says the ban is inconsistent with West Virginia's position as an “energy state”:
State Sen. Brooks McCabe
If we’re an energy state, we ought to say we’re an energy state and not exclude anyone.While McCabe doesn’t see a nuclear plant in West Virginia’s future anytime soon, even if the ban were overturned, he believes the United States needs to become self-sufficient where energy is concerned and that “nuclear will have some part of that equation.” In particular, he envisions small, scalable nuclear plants being built:
I would suggest that at some point in the future … you’re going to see much smaller, in some ways more mobile, nuclear power plants—little mini-plants, almost like you see in some of these natural gas turbines that are out there.While the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan has renewed concerns about nuclear energy, McCabe notes that the plant’s problems were caused by a tsunami—something West Virginia doesn’t have to worry about, he said:
How big nuclear energy will be remains to be seen. Probably less substantial than it would have been prior to what’s happened in Japan. But I think technologies are changing and improving.Making the United States self-sufficient in energy will require a mix of renewable energy, coal, gas, hydro, geothermal and nuclear, McCabe said. At the same time, he said, the nation must balance environmental requirements with the need to keep electricity affordable:
I have a real concern about maintaining affordable cost of electricity in this state so our industry can be competitive at the global level. …If we’re not careful, we’re going to price ourselves out of manufacturing, and that would be just an unmitigated disaster.McCabe repeatedly has supported legislation to overturn West Virginia’s ban on nuclear energy. A number of other states also are looking at similar action. For example, the Minnesota House and Senate both passed bills in February that would eliminate the state’s moratorium on nuclear energy. It remains to be seen how the accident in Japan may affect plans for new nuclear plants. Duke Energy, for one, is sticking to its plans to develop a new reactor, while studying lessons learned from Fukushima Daiichi, according to Chief Executive Officer Jim Rogers.
State Sen. Brooks McCabe