Your Opinion: Missouri needs nuclear power

Dear Editor:

Missouri needs the option of additional nuclear power. Every electric utility’s generation portfolio needs to have the right balance between lower operating-cost baseload units that can run 24/7, and plants that can come on-line to meet peak loads.

Electricity demand in Missouri increased 50 percent the last 20 years and is projected to increase another 25 percent in the next 20. Wind, solar and energy conservation are important parts of the overall energy portfolio, but cannot replace baseload sources. Wind and solar are available less than 30 percent of the time. We also need new baseload plants.

Callaway I is a gem. Its outstanding performance has only improved since it came on-line in 1984.

It provides low-cost, safe and reliable electricity around the clock, while emitting no pollutants into the atmosphere. Although initial construction costs caused a significant rate increase, Ameren rates did not increase again (and in fact decreased several times) between 1988 and 2002.

The site permit process will assess seismic risk. Ameren has multiple back-ups for power to maintain cooling in the unlikely event of earthquake damage to the plant. Mid-Missouri will not experience a tsunami. And no American nuclear plant bears the least resemblance to Chernobyl, which was akin to a nuclear reactor in a tool shed.

Without the anti-CWIP law enacted by initiative petition in 1976, Callaway I would have cost $2 billion instead of $3 billion.

That law requires new power plants to be built on credit cards instead of paying as we go. SB321 does not overturn that law, but merely modifies it modestly.

Sen. Kehoe’s SB321 would not commit Missouri to a new nuclear plant, but would show Wall Street, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the world that Missouri is committed to keeping the nuclear option open, which is in the public interest.

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