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SMR output in Callaway County could add $25 billion to economy

SMR output in Callaway County could add $25 billion to economy

April 12th, 2013 in News

Jim Moody, a Jefferson City government consultant, spoke Thursday night at the Fulton Area Development Corporation's annual Business Salute Banquet. Moody said manufacturing of small modular nuclear reactors in Callaway County would provide a huge boost to the economy, adding up to $25 billion a year in economic benefits.

Photo by Don Norfleet

Production of small modular nuclear reactors at the Callaway Energy Center for sale around the world would add $25 billion to the state's economy and create the biggest economic impact of any single project ever developed in Missouri, a government analyst said Thursday night in Fulton.

Speaking at the annual Fulton Area Development Corporation's Salute Banquet, Jim Moody of Jefferson city said small modular nuclear reactors, also known as SMRs, are smaller versions of full-size nuclear reactors now in use at nuclear power plants throughout the nation.

SMRs adapt the technology used to power nuclear submarines for the U.S. Navy for development of smaller and less expensive nuclear power plants.

Moody said building an array of up to five SMRs at the Callaway plant would provide a bigger economic benefit than construction of the Callaway nuclear plant in the 1980s.

Adding a SMR manufacturing facility at the Callaway Energy Center would have an economic impact of $25 billion and create thousands of jobs around the state.

He said numerous other Missouri firms would build components of the SMRs and ship them to the plant for assembly, providing a tremendous boost to the state's overall economy.

Moody said the $25 billion SMR boost to the economy is even bigger than the annual output all of the agricultural industry in Missouri.

Westinghouse and Ameren Missouri are teaming up with Missouri utilities, electric cooperatives and municipal power plants to seek a federal grant to help finance initial construction of small modular nuclear reactors.

The U.S. Department of Energy has approved initial designs for small modular nuclear reactors to be used by utilities throughout the world.

Westinghouse would manufacture the small modular nuclear reactors at the Callaway Energy Center, site of Ameren Missouri's nuclear power plant, and then ship them around the world. Moody estimated 20 percent of the output of the Callaway County manufacturing facility would be shipped overseas.

The Westinghouse and Ameren Missouri facility would create thousands of jobs and would be a tremendous boost to the economies of Callaway County and Missouri.

Moody is the owner and principal of Jim Moody & Associates, a Jefferson City-based governmental relations and consulting firm. He is a former state budget director and director of the Office of Administration for the state of Missouri.

Bruce Hackmann, president of the Fulton Area Development Corporation, said the firm "is among the state's most widely recognized governmental consulting firms."

Moody & Associates has produced major research reports analyzing the state's financial conditions and how proposed changes might affect the state's economy and budgets.

Moody urged Callaway County residents at the banquet to contact legislative leaders and ask them to support legislation offered by Rep. Jeanie Riddle, R-Mokane, that would update the regulatory procedure used by the Missouri Public Service System. He said the legislation would make Missouri's regulations more like the regulatory procedures used by other states.

Moody said Missouri's current law has a regulatory lag that cripples the credit ratings of Ameren Missouri and other major private utilities in Missouri.

When Missouri's private utilities spend money on improvements, Moody said they often must wait from two to three years before they can have utility rate adjustments to repay borrowed money used to finance those expenses.

As a result Ameren Missouri has a BBB- bond rating, worse than 94 percent of other major utilities in the nation.

This causes Ameren Missouri to pay interest rates far higher than other utilities.

Missouri consumers pay for this in the long run through higher utility rates, Moody said.

Moody said lowering interest rates on money borrowed by Ameren Missouri and other Missouri utilities is crucial to development of SMR technology at the Callaway Energy Center.

"That's why updating utility regulations and approving legislation backed by Rep. Riddle is so vital to Callaway County," Moody said.

Moody said Missouri officials often boast about the state's AAA bond ratings. "But they don't talk about the fact," Moody said, "that Missouri has among the nation's worst regulatory environments for utilities."