Lawmakers consider nuclear power legislation

A group of Missouri electric utilities urged state lawmakers Tuesday to allow them to charge electric customers for some of the costs of developing a second nuclear power plant in the state.

The proposal drew criticism from consumer and environmental advocates. Officials from several businesses, including Monsanto Co. and the Ford Motor Co., expressed concerns about funding for the state office that represents utility customers before state regulators.

A 1976 voter-approved law currently bars utilities from charging customers for the costs of a new power plant before it starts producing electricity. The House Utilities Committee considered legislation Tuesday that would allow power companies to recoup from customers the cost of getting an early site permit from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon has endorsed the proposal, saying it would start the process toward building a power plant in central Missouri that would create thousands of jobs. The state’s only nuclear power plant is in Callaway County, which is about 25 miles northeast of the state Capitol.

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Some critics contend the bill would shift to electric customers the risk of building a nuclear power plant that might never be developed.

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