Wisconsin Gov. Walker signs bill to lift nuclear plant moratorium

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) has signed legislation that lifts the current moratorium on consideration of nuclear power plant applications in the state.

During a ceremony April 1 at the Wisconsin Energy Institute in Madison, Walker signed into law Assembly Bill 384.

“Nuclear energy is an affordable, environmentally safe, and sustainable alternative to fossil fuel,” Walker said in a news release. “The legislation we’re signing into law here today at the Wisconsin Energy Institute provides the Wisconsin Public Service Commission with increased flexibility for Wisconsin’s energy portfolio with the potential addition of nuclear facilities.”

Under the bill, regulators must consider sources, to the extent cost-effective and technically feasible, in the following order: energy conservation and efficiency; noncombustible renewable energy resources; combustible renewable energy resources; advanced nuclear energy using a reactor design or amended reactor design approved after Dec. 31, 2010, by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC); and non-renewable combustible energy resources. 

The legislation was authored by Rep. Kevin Petersen (R – Waupaca) and Senator Frank Lasee (R – De Pere), the bill passed the Assembly on a voice vote and was concurred by the Senate with a vote of 23-9.  It is Act 344.

Since retirement of the Dominion (NYSE:D) Kewaunee nuclear facility a few years ago, the dual-unit NextEra (NYSE:NEE) Point Beach nuclear complex now provides the only in-state nuclear generation in Wisconsin.

“The nuclear energy industry welcomes Governor Scott Walker’s approval lifting the long-standing moratorium on new nuclear energy in Wisconsin,” said Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Alex Flint.

“The legislation’s strong bipartisan support owes heavily to the broad, diverse coalition of supporters who mobilized in favor of the moratorium repeal,” Flint said. The coalition included business, labor and environmental representatives, Flint said.

The NEI official said it was fitting that Walker signed the bill at the University of Wisconsin, which has one of the world’s top nuclear engineering programs.

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.