It passes the House 121-to-21, but it might well be dead for this session. One chamber is ready to take that first step toward a second nuclear power plant, but that likely won’t matter.
Rep. Jeanie Riddle (R-Mokane) succeeded in amending a bill to allow Ameren Missouri to charge customers as much as $45 million to finance the application for an early site permit from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Riddle told colleagues during House floor debate that it vital to Missouri’s economic future.
“You cannot separate energy from economic growth,” Riddle stated. “Without this permit we force Missouri’s electric providers to look to surrounding states for our energy needs.”
Riddle claims the investment will reap great benefits for the state economy, as much as $1.2 billion dollars annually.
But Rep. Jeanette Mott Oxford (D-St. Louis) argued that if Ameren wants the plant, it should secure the financing to build it.
“This is about whether we’re going to socialize the risk on the ratepayers and then privatize the profits for the investors, or not,” Oxford said.
All the talk might be in vain. House Speaker Steven Tilley (R-Perryville) told reporters that opposition is so strong among certain Senators, that amendment threatens the entire bill and spooks its sponsor.
“My understanding is if that’s on it, the whole things dead,” Tilley said. “So, I think he’s trying to figure out a way to get those issued done and maybe on a separate vehicle.”
The early site permit legislation has been amended onto HCS/SB 207, a bill originally drafted to classify hydroelectric power generating equipment as tangible personal property for taxation purposes. Rep. Darrell Pollock, a Republican from Lebanon, is the House sponsor of the bill. Majority Floor Leader Tim Jones told reporters Pollock asked that the bill be pulled after the nuclear power amendment was attached to it.