An ever-growing need for electricity and a more and more restrictive regulatory environment have AmerenUE dusting off plans to build a second nuclear reactor at the Callaway Nuclear Power Plant in mid-Missouri.

There always were plans to building a second plant at Callaway, located near Fulton. Ameren scrapped those plans in the 70s when the demand for electricity dropped rather than rose. AmerenUE spokesman Mike Cleary explains that the Arab oil embargo of the 70s drove up gas prices and triggered wide-spread conservation efforts. It also triggered a recession that drove down demand. Then there was an initiative petition passed in 1976 that prohibits utilities from passing the cost of constructing new power plants on to customers.

Cleary says no decision will be made for at least two years. It will be a big one, because a second plant could cost six billion dollars, unless new technology proves to be simpler and less-costly than the current Callaway plant. Cleary says two plants under construction, one in Finland and one in France, are being built with the new technology. Ameren will monitor the progress of those plants to determine if that could be used in constructing a new nuclear reactor at Callaway.

The Callaway Plant went on line near Fulton in 1984. It cost three billion dollars. The Callaway Plant produces 20-percent of Ameren’s power, the rest coming mostly from coal-fired plants.

Download/listen Brent Martin reports (1:15 MP3)