Several governors and senators from Southern states met this week at the Southern States Energy Board to discuss topics such as oil and gas development, nuclear energy legislation and Environmental Protection Agency regulations. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Governor Haley Barbour (R-Miss.) were among the participants who led the conversation on nuclear energy issues.
Gov. Barbour voiced his support for building another nuclear energy plant in Mississippi.
Candidly, we’d love to have another nuclear power plant. … We don’t have, ‘Not in my backyard.’ We have, ‘Please in my backyard.’
Gov. Barbour’s support for nuclear energy is not unfounded, as Mississippi’s Grand Gulf 1 nuclear energy plant makes up more than 17 percent of the state’s total electricity generation and 100 percent of the state’s total emission-free electricity. The state relies heavily on natural gas (54 percent), which can cause steep fluctuations on electricity prices for the state’s residents. In addition, Mississippi’s geographic region and weather conditions do not necessarily lend themselves to renewable energy sources (a problem among some other Southern states as well), which makes the continued development of nuclear energy an attractive option.
Sen. Graham at the meeting called for increased support from environmentalists in Congress on developing nuclear energy policies. There are several key issues he believes need to be addressed. Platts reports:
Nuclear regulations should be “streamlined,” he [Sen. Graham] said, saying that it takes twice as long to license and build a nuclear plant in the U.S. than it does in France. Utilities investing in large nuclear projects need to ensure that a lawsuit does not hold them up in the final year of construction.
In addition, municipal- and state-owned electricity cooperatives that participate in nuclear projects should be allowed to transfer the tax credits they would have received to for-profit utilities, he said. That would allow Santee Cooper, the electric company owned by South Carolina, to transfer production tax credits it would have received from its new nuclear projects to investor-owned Duke Energy, Graham said.
More on the Southern States Energy Board can be found on their website.
Photo of Gov. Barbour at the Southern States Energy Board on Oct. 4, 2011. Credits: George Altman, Washington Bureau