Wisconsin Assembly Approves Bill To Lift Nuclear Construction Barriers

The State Assembly in Wisconsin approved a bill Tuesday that would effectively end the state's moratorium on new nuclear power plant construction.

Kewaunee NPPIt took a voice vote to approve the measure, which has yet to go to the state's Senate.

The moratorium on new nuclear power plants in Wisconsin hinges on two conditions that have serve as barriers to construction. New nuclear power facilities must prove they are not going to cause higher electricity bills for state residents and they must be able to move spent fuel to a national repository.

The second stipulation is a deal-breaker, as there is no national repository for spent nuclear fuel. After spending more than 20 years studying the possibility of creating one at Yucca Mountain, Nev., the issue was put on hold in the nation's capital, largely due to opposition by the state's senior senator Harry Reid.

The bill approved Tuesday would remove those stipulations in Wisconsin.

States are now feeling the pressure to move forward with electricity generation that does not contribute carbon emissions that contribute to global warming, said Rep. Keven Petersen, who sponsored the new bill.

Petersen also said that the stipulation for new power plants to not have a negative impact on ratepayers is already provided for in other state laws, so that requirement will not go away.

The federal Clean Power Plan requires a 41 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions through 2030.

The bill, according to ABC News 12 Wisconsin, has support from a variety of labor unions, including engineers, pipefitters and construction workers. Alliant Energy, the Wisconsin Industrial Energy Group and Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce have also voiced approval of the measure.

The Citizens Utility Board, environmental groups and the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters have voiced their opposition to it, the news service said.

Wisconsin has one operating nuclear power plant, the Point Beach Nuclear Plant near Two-Rivers on the western shore of Lake Michigan. Its two other plants, the 50 MW La Crosse boiling water reactor and the Kewaunee Nuclear Generating Station near Carlton, were shut down in 1987 and 2013, respectively. They were each closed with their owners citing economic headwinds that made their operations no longer viable.

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