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Ameren reps speak out about "clean' nuclear power

Ameren reps speak out about "clean' nuclear power

February 9th, 2011 in News

Mandi Steele/FULTON SUN photo: Rick Eastman, business operations supervisor at Ameren Missouri's Callaway Plant, presents information about the plan for a second nuclear reactor to the Callaway County Young Professionals Tuesday at Pizza Hut in Fulton.

In an attempt to inform the community about Ameren Missouri's plan to seek a site permit for a second nuclear reactor, Rick Eastman has been giving presentations to different local organizations.

Eastman, business operations supervisor at Ameren's Callaway Plant, spoke to the Callaway County Young Professionals on Tuesday afternoon at Pizza Hut in Fulton. He said he will speak with groups such as Lions Clubs or Rotary Clubs or "any group" to help inform community members about the importance of nuclear energy.

"Nuclear power is safe, clean and it's affordable," Eastman said.

His presentation to the Young Professionals included information about the current legislation that area lawmakers are putting before the state senate and house. Sen. Mike Kehoe is sponsoring Senate Bill 50 and Rep. Jeanie Riddle is sponsoring House Bill 124. Eastman told the group that both bills are being brought before congress for essentially the same goal - to leave the option open for building nuclear plants in Missouri and to allow for recovery of the costs of a site permit if one is granted.

It's estimated that a site permit to build a second reactor at the Callaway Plant would cost about $40 million and take up to three years to be approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. After the three-year approval process, Eastman said it would take another six to seven years to build the reactor.

He said the $40 million permit cost would be split between Ameren and the five other electricity providers in the state - Kansas City Power and Light, Associated Electric Cooperative, Inc., Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives, Missouri Public Utility Alliance, and Empire. Eastman said the other providers have already given their support for nuclear legislation and decided it was worth the investment of a site permit to keep the option open for building other Missouri nuclear plants.

Eastman's presentation included showing how the cost of maintaining an existing coal plant and bringing one up to the EPA's standards can cost millions.

"Why would you spend hundreds of millions retrofitting a coal plant when you could spend that money building a new nuclear plant?" Eastman said.

Many of the coal plants are reaching the 50-year mark, Eastman said, which means they will have to be retired soon as it is.

Jody Paschal, member of Young Professions, asked Eastman what the arguments against building a nuclear plant entail.

Eastman answered by saying that the commercials shown on TV demonizing the nuclear legislation are from industrial companies that don't want to see electric rates rise for any reason, "no matter how small the increase might be."

Anne Roselius, business planning specialist at the Callaway Plant, said rates are going to increase regardless.

Eastman said it's cheaper to produce electricity with a nuclear plant, so in the long run that will be reflected in rates to customers.

Roselius, who assisted Eastman during Tuesday's presentation, said it is important to educate the community about the nuclear plant. One way is by presentations, but Roselius also helps with tours of the Callaway Plant.

"It really opens their eyes to more of the benefits of nuclear power," she said.