A decision made by voters more than thirty years ago could limit Missouri’s chances to more than double the electricity it gets from nuclear power.
About fifteen percent of the electricity Missourians use comes from the Callaway Nuclear Plant. Ameren-UE thinks a second reactor at Callaway could produce about one-third of the electricity generated in Missouri.
But voters in 1976 adopted the "Construction Work in Progress" law that keeps utilities from billing customers for construction costs as they are incurred. Ameren President Tom Voss says that law stops construction of Callaway-Two before it ever starts. "We could not build it unless that was repealed," Voss says.
Voss says his six-billion dollar company cannot afford to build a six-billion dollar power plant unless it can do it on a pay-as-you go system. He says CWIP has to go–soon.
The company expects to hear from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2010-2011 about whether it can go ahead with the second unit. Voss says the company would like to have the issue cleared up by then so it can start talking to partners. That’s why Ameren hopes the 2009 legislature repeals the law.
Voss says the cost of Callaway One increased by half because of the long-term debt the company ran up to build it under the law and customers are still paying off that debt. Unless the law is repealed, he says, Callaway Two could cost nine-billion dollars, including a debt that neither the company nor its customers–he thinks–can afford.