Climate & Energy Blog

As Iowa Legislature Considers Radioactive Rate Hike, Public and Investors Turn Against New Reactors in other States

Posted Apr. 20, 2011 / Posted by: Kelly Trout

News Advisory
April 20, 2011

Contact:
Matthew Cain, 202-222-0751, mcain@foe.org
Kelly Trout, 202-222-0722, ktrout@foe.org

As Iowa Legislature Considers Radioactive Rate Hike, Public and Investors Turn Against New Reactors in other States

While MidAmerican Energy continues to push the Iowa legislature to pass legislation that would allow the company to increase electricity costs to pay for the construction of a new reactor—before the reactor is built and whether or not the reactor is eventually built—three related developments across the country have further undermined the viability of building new nuclear reactors in the U.S.

NRG pulls out of South Texas Reactor—NRG Energy yesterday announced that it is withdrawing its investment in a new reactor project in South Texas. NRG is the majority owner and operator of the existing South Texas facility and has been responsible for orchestrating plans to build two new reactors at the site.  NRG’s withdrawal, despite having already spent $331 million on the project, creates a multi-billion dollar hole in the project’s financing, delivering an apparent death blow. NRG President and CEO David Crane said of the company’s decision to step away from its at least $4 billion commitment, “It’s simply good asset management.” He explained that, “In the wake of Fukushima, the confluence of events that would have to occur in NRG’s view in order to get (reactors) 3 and 4 truly back on track is extremely daunting and at this point not particularly likely.” More can be seen about NRG’s withdrawal here.

Missouri Senate ends debate on raising electricity rates to pay for new Ameren nuclear reactor—The Missouri legislature yesterday decided not to vote on a bill that would have allowed Missouri utility Ameren to increase electricity rates by $40 million to pay for the site permit for a new nuclear reactor at Ameren’s Callaway County site. News reports out of Missouri suggest it is unlikely that the bill will be brought up again before the end of the session. If so, this would put an end to the latest attempt by Ameren to raise ratepayers’ electricity bills to cover the costs of building a new nuclear reactor. More about what happened in Missouri can be found here.

New national poll finds U.S. public opposes new reactors—A new Washington Post-ABC News poll released today found that 64 percent of Americans oppose building more nuclear power plants at this time, and 47 percent are strongly opposed. The poll can be found here.

Reacting to these developments, Friends of the Earth Climate and Energy Director Damon Moglen said, “These developments underscore that nuclear reactors are a bad investment—investors won’t pay for them and the public doesn’t want them. In the wake of the Fukushima disaster the risks are even starker. All of this explains why MidAmerican is trying to force Iowa ratepayers to make the investment for them. The Iowa legislature should listen to the public and to the investors and reject MidAmerican’s demand that the public should underwrite its misguided plans to build a new nuclear reactor.”

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