Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Nuclear Politics in Missouri

The election this year has focused by and large on the economy and a fair number of important issues have fallen away. They haven’t ceased being important, of course, but politicians follow the interests of the public. One of the issues that has gotten less attention than in previous cycles is energy. In the 2008 contests, the candidates on both sides brought it up at the debates and even nuclear energy got a look (there wasn’t much distance between the candidates – nuclear energy was well supported across the ideological spectrum.)

But this year – not so much in the way of discussion and very little about nuclear energy. So let’s turn instead to what some of the local candidates are talking about.

Over in Missouri, incumbent state Representative Jeanie Riddle (R) and challenger Pam Murray (D) are running in the 20th district, an area that includes the Callaway facility, so nuclear energy is an issue in there.

Surely, there’s some room for disagreement:

Incumbent House Rep. Jeanie Riddle, a Mokane Republican, and Democrat Pam Murray of Holts Summit both support adding another nuclear reactor at the Callaway Energy Center but they disagree on how to do it.
jeanie_riddle
State Rep. Jeanie Riddle
Well, I was expecting more heat, but let’s see what the candidates have in mind. First, Riddle, who supported legislation in support of Callaway last year that passed the House but stalled in the Senate, has developed an interest in attracting small reactor manufacturing to the state:
We want to be the first to do this,” Riddle said, “because it would give us an advantage to becoming a world exporter of this technology. One study shows 8,000 new direct jobs and 8,500 new indirect jobs. It would add $25 billion to Missouri’s economy if our state becomes the lead exporter of these new power plants.”
On her campaign web site, she says, “I want to promote alternative energy sources here and across the nation especially nuclear energy.” 

pam_murray
Pam Murray
Pam Murray is interested in ensuring the Public Service Commission is not left out of the loop in approving new nuclear build.
“More than half of the legislation was devoted to gutting the Missouri Public Service Commission by realigning their budget. It also attempted to limit the amount of regulatory oversight the PSC could apply to telecommunications. It was just a very bad bill,” Murray said.

“It is possible to write a bill that will get the power plant and also protect consumers,” Murray said.
This is the disagreement that writer Don Norfleet is highlighting. I think this is the bill in question, but it doesn’t seem to me overly harsh to the PSC:
An electrical corporation seeking an early site permit from the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission, upon beginning the permitting process, is required to seek permission from the Missouri Public Service Commission to recover from ratepayers up to $45 million of prudent expenditures on the permit process over a period not to exceed six years.
Murray is all for expansion at Callaway, but is disappointed that bills promoting it have not progressed further.
It is apparent we do not have the representation needed to get this important project completed for our communities! I will work night and day to develop a workable solution to make this a win-win situation for our local governments, our schools, our county and our state!
Exclamation points from original. Riddle and Murray do not seem far apart on the overall issue of nuclear energy in Missouri, but Murray feels she would be a better advocate for Callaway than Riddle. We may assume Riddle thinks the opposite. 

You can see Riddle’s campaign web site here and Murray’s here.

No endorsement here. That’s for Missourians in the 20th district to decide. The doings of nuclear energy are one issue among many they will be considering, some of them, I’m sure, a good deal more important to their daily lives.

2 comments:

jim said...

Re: “It is possible to write a bill that will get the power plant and also protect consumers,” Murray said."

Bet they NEVER use that cautiously cagey punchline hawking oil and gas plants!

James Greenidge
Queens NY

Anonymous said...

It is amazing to me that politicians would so easily agree on having the public pay for the start up costs of a new plant. This is way before any electricity is even generated. It seems to me that this is a business expense to be borne by the corporation. Do you really need public assistance for this industry? t seems apparent that ratepayers will never recoup their "ïnvetment."