Ameren official outlines nuclear project benefits for Holts Summit

If you build it, they will come.

And possibly better the economy.

At the Holts Summit Community Betterment Association on Thursday, Ameren Missouri representative Lonna Trammell detailed the fundamentals of the proposed Callaway II nuclear plant.

Ameren is partnering with the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives, Kansas City Power and Light, and the Missouri Public Utility Alliance to apply for a permit to determine the suitability of a site near the existing plant in Reform.

Trammell explained that if a second plant were built, the growth of jobs would be a boost to the area economy.

Charlie Pardon, association member, agreed.

“If we don’t build this here, someone else is going to have to build one, and we’ll end up paying for it,” Pardon said. “We might as well have the jobs and the benefits of building it here rather than somewhere else.”

Over the next 20 years, demand for energy is expected to increase 25 percent in Missouri, Trammell said. During that same period, 90 percent of the coal-fired plants in Missouri will need to be retired as they will be too old to operate efficiently, she said.

Building a second nuclear plant in Callaway County would take about 10 years, producing nearly 3,500 construction jobs and 900 to 1,000 permanent positions.

Ameren and its partners are seeking legislation to undo part of a 1976 law that prohibits utility companies from recouping construction costs on a new facility until it is fully operational.

But proposed new laws by state Sen. Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, and Rep. Jeanie Riddle, R-Mokane, would allow a utility company to seek a federal site permit for a possible new nuclear plant, then bill ratepayers for that effort if the application is successful.

Opponents have said any change to the law must include a refund to ratepayers if no plant ever is built, and Kehoe on Wednesday introduced a new version that requires the Public Service Commission to order refunds if the plant isn’t built, which may assuage opponents’ initial concerns.

Otherwise, the opponents have argued, utility customers would be paying for something that never produced electricity.

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