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Your Opinion: Nuked into submission

Your Opinion: Nuked into submission

March 22nd, 2011 by Tony Smith, Jefferson City in News

Dear Editor:

Say what you will, the nuclear disaster in Japan makes a nuclear future here that much more difficult. It underscores why private investment capital for nuclear plants has not been available for 30 years. Investors might not only lose all of their money but be held liable for many times more a potential disaster.

A recent local headline playfully intoned, "Is CWIP outdated?" CWIP is construction work in progress. The public handily voted in 1976 against being charged for energy plant construction before a plant was online. Now hoping that citizens have forgotten Ameren's mismanagement of the Callaway plant in the "70s, politicians are banking that they can push through laws that allow Ameren to build another plant.

Let's review the facts. There is no private capital from Wall Street for nuclear energy. They are too smart to invest in such a dangerous and costly source of energy. That is true worldwide. In France and China they build nuclear plants and write off the cost to the public. The downside of nuclear energy is just too great for an investor to participate. Japan is clearly showing that once again.

I have friends who support another Callaway plant because it will provide jobs. It would be another boom economy for Jefferson City for a few years. That might be true, but is that sufficient to support the most expensive source of energy known? And yes, it is better than coal but not better than wind, solar and energy conservation.

Current Missouri legislation is aimed at helping Ameren obtain a permit. That is a mere $40 million or so. The plant itself was said to be a $9 billion project. After the current Japanese disaster, all bets are off on what a plant will now cost. The saving point of some of the revised Missouri legislation is that citizens will be reimbursed if the permit is not accepted. And where does this money come from? Well, the federal government has insurance for energy producers if their nuclear permits fail. And what does that mean? It means that you are paid back from your own taxes. Where is Ameren's "skin in the game"?

So, once again we will be told money that is to be extracted from us is to be for our own good. We should not be so gullible. The political class and the power elites are not our friends.