Pro-nuclear state bills make headway in Washington, Kentucky

Nuclear-friendly legislation has taken a step forward recently in the states of Kentucky and Washington.

The Washington State Senate recently endorsed a measure designed to help make that state a leader in small-scale nuclear reactor technology; while the Kentucky Senate has passed a bill that could end a state moratorium on nuclear power plant development.

The Washington State Senate on March 6 passed a bill to promote small modular reactor (SMR) technology.

Senate Bill 5113, which passed on a 27-21 vote March, revises existing state energy policy to require the Commerce Department to coordinate and advance the sitting and manufacturing of small-scale reactors.

The version of the bill passed by the Senate would define a small modular reactor as a scalable nuclear power plant with units no greater than 300 MW. Also each reactor should be designed for factory manufacturing and ease of transport by means such as truck, rail or barge.

The measure has been referred to the Technology & Economic Development Committee in the House.

A report on the bill notes that the past state budget appropriated $500,000 for the development of an SMR proposal by the Tri-City Development Council. A final report was issued in September 2014, which concluded, among other things, that siting an SMR at the Hanford nuclear site would be technically feasible.

Meanwhile, the Kentucky Senate has passed a bill that would end a moratorium on building new nuclear reactors in the state. The bill was sponsored by Sen. Danny Carroll (R-Paducah). Paducah served as home to a major uranium enrichment plant operated by USEC.

Senate Bill 90 would lift the nuclear moratorium in Kentucky. The measure would amend existing Kentucky policy to define “storage” and amend a definition to require that nuclear power facilities have a plan for the storage of nuclear waste rather than a means of permanent disposal.

Such measures in Kentucky have traditionally been opposed, however, by environmental groups and much of the state’s coal mining interests.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.