A group comprising Missouri’s energy companies says it’s frustrated with the legislature for not passing a bill that would have allowed an early site permit for a second nuclear power plant. Missouri’s Energy Alliance says there were consumer protections in the bill so that paying customers didn’t get stuck paying for a product they weren’t going to receive.

Spokesman David Klindt says there was broad support in the legislature. What blocked the bill that would have helped build a second nuclear power plant, he says, was a tough lobby effort by four major energy consumers: Ford Motor Co., Noranda Aluminum, Anheuser Bush and Monsanto.

AUDIO: Bob Quinn — Association for Social Welfare — explains why they pay less [1:25 min.]

Klindt says 80 percent of Missouri’s power now is from coal, so there will most likely not anymore coal facilities built.

“With no new nuclear, that leaves only natural gas plants, and if we’re not careful, we’ll get too many eggs in one basket,” he says. “If gas prices would spike double or triple in the future, our electricity would be very expensive. By adding nuclear, that diversifies our profile. Natural gas generates about 40 percent of the carbon emissions that coal does — that would also draw heavy penalties from the federal government.”

Klindt says there are some opportunities to partner with projects in other states, but a plant here would have also created jobs. He says if the legislature is called into special session, the same bill could be taken up, but after that, it will have to be re-crafted. And he says it is pressing…. by the year 2020, nuclear will be the cheapest energy available. Klindt says federal mandates and penalties on coal and natural gas usage means relying on those two sources will result in sky-rocketing energy costs. Missouri is operating at 80 percent coal power, a percentage Klindt says can’t be kept up forever.

He says Missouri needs a comprehensive energy plan for the future — and the Energy Alliance still believes that the nuclear site permit bill would have been the first step in addressing that challenge.

“The Alliance included the strongest consumer protection provisions in the proposed legislation that can be found anywhere in the country,” the group says. “There was a widespread coalition of support in both chambers of the legislature. The bill had the support of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, labor organizations, hundreds of large and small businesses and thousands of Missourians. However, the bill did not receive a fair debate and vote.”

The Missouri Association Social Welfare says Ameren Electric didn’t need the legislature’s help to get an early site permit for a second nuclear power plant. Director Bob Quinn says his group represents the Missouri consumer council, AARP, industrial companies such as Ford, Noranda, Anheuser Bush and Monsanta, and the Missouri Retailers Association…. all of which were opposed to the measure.

Quinn says Ameren has already raised rates by 25 percent in the last two years and have operated at a good profit.

AUDIO: Quinn says a rate increase is not the answer [Mp3, 1:23 min.]

Senator Mike Kehoe (R-Jefferson City) has written a letter to Governor Nixon asking him to call legislators back into special session to push the bill through, saying interests will move to other states if Missouri doesn’t move on it quickly.