The effort to change Missouri’s law regarding the charging of ratepayers for construction of a second nuclear power plant in Callaway County is expected to get a major push this week at the State Capitol. The Senate has spent a good deal of time discussing the bill, but has failed to bring about changes that would allow the bill to get through the chamber.
SB 228 – the Construction Work in Progress (CWIP) bill – would allow AmerenUE, the state’s largest electric utility, to charge ratepayers during the construction phase of the new Callaway County plant, should the Nuclear Regulatory Commission give Ameren the authority to build.
Several reasons have led to the legislation being filibustered in the Senate. There are Senators who are concerned about the ratepayers and a lack of consumer protection in this deal. There is at least one lawmaker, Senator Rob Mayer (R-Dexter), who has been battling on behalf of Noranda Aluminum – a company, in his district, which has raised concerns about increased electricity costs.
Senator Delbert Scott (R-Lowry City) sponsors the legislation. He realizes no amount of discussion will change the views of some entities.
"For people that are against this to start out with there is nothing going to be enough," said Scott. "We have had major groups that say ‘we are with you, we’re working with you,’ They’ve worked against us in the whole process. And the industrials have been in that situation – they don’t want any increases."
Scott also takes aim at the labor unions, which would stand to benefit from passage of the CWIP bill. It is expected about 2,500 construction jobs would be created during the building phase, with about 500 permanent union jobs created at the new power plant.
"They are high paid jobs and if the union wants it their leadership ought to be here banging on the doors of those that are slowing it down."
Scott hopes to being to the table all those with issues to try to iron out differences before the bill is brought back to the floor for more debate.