A proposal that could clear the way for AmerenUE to build its second nuclear plant has been put before the legislature. Senator Delbert Scott wants to get rid of the law keeping utilities from billing customers for a power plant until it has been built and becomes operational. AmerenUE says it probably cannot afford to build the plant with that law. The Construction Work in Progress law, or CWIP, was approved by voters about thirty years ago after a campaign led largely by nuclear power opponents.

Scott says the stat needs to help the company move in that direction. "As I look toward the future and see the increase in demand for power, and the new caps on coal and old coal generation plants that have served their time, we need to come up with alternative forms of energy," he says. The legislation would also apply to other power-generating facilities using renewable energy–solar and wind. It does not apply to coal or natural gas-fired plants. Representative Ed Emery of Lamar is drafting a similar bill for the House to consider.Ameren-UE says it cannot afford the debt it would have to carry to build the proposed
Callaway II plant if the law is not changed. Supporters of the change say the company would have to incur two to three Billion dollars in debt if it cannot charge customers for construction costs along the way.Scott says his bill would protect Ameren customers from having to pay the costs of overruns. One provision requires the Public Service Commission to review construction costs every three months. The PSC would have power to stop the construction if it sees costs getting out of line. He says the bill gives the PSC "life or death authority" over the project. The bill also lets the PSC authorize Ameren-UE to seek federal loan guarantees and to charge consumers an amount necessary to keep the company’s credit rating up.