Ameren: A Boost For Nuclear Energy?
For years, Ameren Missouri officials have worked to reform Missouri’s construction-work-in-progress (CWIP) law that prohibits utilities from billing customers for expenses during a construction phase. There is room for debate on whether this anti-CWIP legislation has been good for consumers or harmful to economic growth, but there is no denying it has impeded the expansion of energy resources in Missouri. As the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) imposes more greenhouse emission regulations on coal-fired power plants, Missouri officials must seek alternative sources of energy. Unfortunately, Missouri’s CWIP law prevents nuclear power expansion in the state; such an expansion would provide the state with more power, cleaner energy, and potentially lower rates over the long run.
However, Ameren Missouri officials may have found a solution to the dilemma: the U.S. Department of Energy’s competitive federal cost-share investment funds. Ameren Missouri and Westinghouse Electric Company recently announced that they are seeking competitive federal cost-share investment funds from the Department of Energy, which would be used to manufacture Small Modular Nuclear Reactors. If Ameren receives the funds, Ameren would then expand the nuclear power plant in Callaway County without the need for reforms to Missouri’s CWIP law. This would help Missouri generate more alternative energy without unnecessary mandates. Making this deal even sweeter is the potential for the partnership between Ameren Missouri and Westinghouse Electric Company to create thousands of jobs for the engineering, manufacturing, and operation of the Small Modular Nuclear Reactors. Finally, because portions of the electricity produced in Missouri will be shared around the nation via the electric grid, some level of federal investment is legitimate here. It makes sense that Missouri customers will not pay every penny for something that benefits more than just Missouri.
This is an exciting project that has potentially great benefits for Missourians.