JEFFERSON CITY - Gov. Jay Nixon today announced an agreement with key energy companies across the state to begin the process to construct a second nuclear power plant in Missouri, while protecting the interests of consumers.
The Governor made the announcement at the Governor's Mansion in Jefferson City, with community, labor and business leaders.
Gov. Nixon said he had reached a historic agreement with a consortium of Missouri electric utilities that have agreed to seek an early site permit to build a second, state-of-the-art nuclear facility at AmerenUE's Callaway County location. That agreement includes key protections for Missouri consumers.
"Residential and commercial ratepayers will not pay one penny unless the consortium is given the early site permit; the costs associated with seeking that permit are determined to be "prudent;" and the Missouri Public Service Commission approves them," Gov. Nixon said. "In addition, this agreement will keep consumer protections on the books for construction work in progress."
That represents a significant shift in strategy for utilities, and a significant victory for Missouri ratepayers, Gov. Nixon said.
In the coming weeks, Gov. Nixon will be working with Missouri lawmakers and members of the energy consortium to pursue legislation that will allow them to recover the costs of obtaining an early site permit. A bill will be introduced in the Missouri legislature by Senator-Elect Mike Kehoe, whose district encompasses five counties in central Missouri, including Callaway County.
To help maintain the state's energy independence and affordability, Missouri needs to be at the head of the line as the next generation of clean, affordable, safe nuclear facilities is engineered, permitted by the federal government, built and brought online, Gov. Nixon said.
"The sooner the process is started, the sooner our state will reap the rewards," he said.
Currently, there is one nuclear plant in Missouri, AmerenUE's Callaway plant near Fulton, which has been in operation since 1984. The construction of a second nuclear power plant would create thousands of new jobs and new business opportunities, and have a long-lasting impact on Missouri's economy.
Partners in the new energy consortium include: Ameren Missouri; Associated Electric Cooperative Inc.; Empire District Electric; the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives; Kansas City Power & Light; and the Missouri Public Utility Alliance.
Barry Hart, Executive Vice-president and CEO of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives called the agreement "an important first step in creating an option to move forward on additional nuclear power."
"Faced with today's regulatory uncertainties, we must be pro-active in protecting reliability and costs for our consumer-members and preserving opportunities for future base load generation," Hart said. "We believe this legislation is good for the state of Missouri."
Warner L. Baxter, Chairman, CEO and President of AmerenUE said his company supports the Governor's call for legislation that will keep open the option of a second nuclear power plant for Missouri.
"Given the uncertainties regarding how best to replace aging power plants, the potential impact of anticipated EPA regulations, and continued consideration at the federal level of carbon tax proposals, Ameren Missouri believes strongly that our state must keep all options on the table - including additional nuclear power generation," Baxter said. "We commend Governor Nixon's leadership on this vital issue."
Missouri has traditionally enjoyed some of the most affordable energy power in the nation, and currently has the nation's seventh lowest energy costs among all 50 states. That has allowed it to attract and retain businesses with high energy demands, such as raw materials processing and automobile manufacturing.
Construction of a second nuclear plant would generate thousands of new, good-paying jobs from cutting-edge high-tech positions for engineers and scientists, to long-term construction jobs for construction trades including iron and sheet metal workers; cement masons and electricians; boilermakers, bricklayers and pipefitters.
"Every family needs reliable, affordable energy to heat and cool their homes," Gov. Nixon said. "And every business in every sector of our economy - whether it's a family farm in the Bootheel, a sawmill in the Ozarks, a hospital complex in St. Louis, or a community college in Springfield - needs reliable, affordable energy to grow and prosper."
"I am very pleased that the Governor is providing leadership to ensure energy security for Missouri into the future," said Jim Jura, President and CEO of Associated Electric Cooperative Inc., based in Springfield.
Bill Gipson, President and CEO of Empire District Electric said his company "welcomes the opportunity to work with other electric service providers from throughout the state to keep the option of nuclear energy available," for the people of Missouri.
Bill Downey, President of Kansas City Power & Light said the company believes that energy diversification is the best way to work to achieve energy independence and to keep electricity affordable for all consumers.
"We applaud Governor Nixon for working to ensure that all safe, reliable and efficient energy options are available to Missourians," Downey said.
Duncan Kincheloe, General Manager and CEO of Missouri Public Utility Alliance said
the Governor's call to keep nuclear energy as an option for Missouri's long-term power needs is exactly the direction needed for job growth and economic expansion.
"As consumer-owned non-profits, municipal utilities strongly support this opportunity to include nuclear power in our energy mix as an affordable, clean energy alternative," Kincheloe said. "The state's business and government leaders need to look beyond next quarter's stock returns and campaign sound bites if we're going to have affordable electricity in the next decade. Missouri's power plants are wearing out. If we don't support investment in Missouri's energy future now, we're strangling new jobs and growth."