Iowa nuclear energy bill sparking debate - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa nuclear energy bill sparking debate

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) -

Arguments for and against a new bill that would change the state's regulatory polices and encourage the building of a small-scale nuclear power plant are beginning to heat up.

"If this legislation passes, it keeps nuclear energy as an option for the state of Iowa," a spokesperson for MidAmerican Energy Tim Grabinski said.

"These plants spend billions of dollars in costs and they never generate any electricity," Democratic Sen. Joe Bolkcom said.

Bolkcom spent Tuesday in Des Moines, Iowa City, and Davenport hoping to rally opposition against the bill.

Bolkcom ratepayers they will see higher energy bills to pay for the costs of a project that may never come to fruition.

"It's a Wall Street financing scheme to build a nuclear power plant which shifts all of the risks of the cost on to ratepayers rather than shareholders," Bolkcom said.

House file 561 narrowly passed a Senate commerce-committee earlier this month.

If passed into law, the legislation directs MidAmerican energy to seek approval of a nuclear power plant with the Iowa Utilities Board.

MidAmerican officials say nuclear power needs to be considered among the other sources of energy for base load power- natural gas and coal-fired plants.

New regulations make coal-fired plants less cost effective and may result in the closure of some of these facilities in Iowa.

"It's just important for the state and for the competitive nature of the state to keep us economically viable that we have these options available and then as a state we can move forward and make these decisions as the time comes," Grabinski said. 

The bill next goes before the full senate.

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