Wisconsin bill aims to overturn nuclear construction ban
Bill 288 was introduced to the Wisconsin Senate on 6 October by sponsors led by Senator Frank Lasee. A similar bill, number 384, was submitted to the state’s Assembly on 8 October by Representative Kevin Petersen. Both have had their first reading and been referred to the relevant committees: the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy and the Assembly Committee on Energy and Utilities.
Under current Wisconsin law, construction of any new power plant requires a certificate from the state’s Public Service Commission (PSC). In addition to the requirements that must be satisfied for any new power plant, for proposed nuclear plants the existing legislation prohibits the PSC from issuing a certificate unless two further conditions are satisfied: firstly, there must be available a federally licensed facility with sufficient capacity to receive the used fuel from all nuclear power plants in the state; and secondly, that construction of the power plant is economically advantageous to ratepayers based on specified factors. As no federally licensed facility for receiving used fuel is operational anywhere within the USA, the first requirement effectively bans the PSC from approving any nuclear construction project. The new legislation would eliminate the two extra conditions imposed on proposed nuclear power plants.
Current Wisconsin law also requires state agencies and local governments to design new and replacement energy projects, to the greatest extent cost-effective and feasible, in accordance with a pre-ordained list of priorities. The new legislation would specifically include nuclear capacity in that list, introducing “advanced nuclear energy using a reactor design or amended reactor design approved after December 31, 2010, by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission” as an option that must be considered after “combustible renewable energy resources” but before “non-renewable combustible energy resources”.