Nuclear option

Monday, December 12, 2005

In this day of increasing concerns about the environmental effects of burning of fossil fuels, nuclear power is getting another look.

Nuclear power generates zero emissions. The cost of generating a kilowatt hour of electricity is about 4.5 cents. That compares to a projection that the cost of burning coal could double to 8 cents a kilowatt hour due to more stringent EPA carbon dioxide emission rules.

Ameren Corp. is one of a number of utilities across the country considering building a new generation of nuclear power plants. Ameren is talking about building a second nuclear power unit near Fulton in Callaway County.

The $2 billion plant would take five years to build and would go online in 2017 at the soonest.

The current Callaway County facility was designed for additional units and generates about 12 percent of Ameren's electricity.

Nuclear power production is always subject to not-in-my-backyard opposition. In this case, a nuclear power plant already is operating successfully in Callaway County. Theoretically, opposition to another plant won't be as strong as it might be in a non-nuclear county.

Ameren plans to decide what kind of power plant to build in the next two years. This would be the time for Missourians to let Ameren and their legislators know how they feel about the prospect of building another nuclear plant in the state.

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