Pro-nuclear bill makes progress in Wisconsin legislature

Legislation that could lift the Wisconsin moratorium on new nuclear power plants has taken a step forward in the Republican-dominated Wisconsin State Assembly.

The state Assembly on Jan. 12 approved a bill that would lift Wisconsin’s ban on new nuclear power plants, according to the Associated Press. The measure goes next to the state Senate.

Rep. Kevin Petersen (R) introduced Assembly Bill 384, which prevailed in the vote. According to his online biography, Petersen became a Nuclear Engineering Watch Officer while serving in the U.S. Navy.

“The bill repeals 1983 ACT 401 known as Wisconsin’s Nuclear Moratorium. Under existing Wisconsin law, state regulators cannot grant permission for a new nuclear power plant unless a federal storage facility for the waste exists and the plant is economically advantageous to ratepayers,” Petersen said on his website.

Since the moratorium was enacted, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) moved to withdraw its application for a national nuclear waste repository at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain, Petersen noted.

“Yucca Mountain is no longer needed,” the state lawmaker said. “Instead, facilities such as Kewaunee and Point Beach are employing dry cask storage. Dry cask storage allows spent fuel that has already been cooled in the spent fuel pool for at least one year to be surrounded by inert gas inside a container called a cask.”

Dominion (NYSE:D) owns the now-retired Kewaunee plant, while NextEra (NYSE:NEE) owns Point Beach.

In August 2014 the Obama Administration’s NRC issued “The Continued Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel Rule.” The rule adopts the NRC’s finding which supports the generic environmental impact statement concluding spent nuclear fuel can be safely managed in dry casks indefinitely when licensing nuclear reactors, Petersen said.

New nuclear, especially with advanced designs, could be used to help the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Clean Power Plan, Petersen said. Between 2012 and 2030, Wisconsin will have to reduce its carbon emissions by approximately 41%, Petersen said.

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