Indiana, Iowa Pass Key Nuclear Bills

Last week, lawmakers from Indiana approved a bill that could allow utilities to charge consumers costs incurred to extend the lives of nuclear reactors, and on Tuesday, Iowa legislators voted to begin the process of developing a new nuclear plant.

The bill passed by the Indiana House of Representatives 62 to 34 would also require the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission to allow utilities to raise rates for consumers to cover 80% of federally mandated costs such as those incurred when complying with environmental laws and energy efficiency standards. The Senate has yet to act on the bill.

Indiana has no nuclear plants, though the bill would allow the AEP-owned Cook Nuclear Plant in nearby Bridgman, Mich., to pass on costs related to a recent license extension.

The bill’s six sponsors—all Republicans—say it could help the state meet its energy needs by increasing in-state capacity, attract business, and create jobs. SB 251 is also designed to encourage coal gasification.

The original bill had included a provision to give financial incentives to utilities for building new nuclear plants, but that provision was dropped after the Japanese nuclear crisis began.

On Tuesday, Iowa’s House of Representatives approved 68 to 30 a measure that would help MidAmerican Energy to begin developing a new nuclear plant in an undisclosed location in Iowa. The Senate will now consider the bill.

HF 561 sets up the financial framework for the new nuclear plant, Iowa’s second after the 1975-built Duane Arnold Energy Center near Palo.

Sources: POWERnews, Indiana House of Representatives, Iowa House of Representatives

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