A plan by Missouri's largest utility provider and several other energy companies to construct a second nuclear reactor in Callaway County appears shut down at the state capitol.


Language from State Sen. Mike Kehoe's Senate Bill 321 bill would allow Ameren Missouri to recover some of the costs of obtaining early site permits for "Callaway II" through customer billing. Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, attacked SB 321 to SB 48, sponsored by Sen. Robin Wright-Jones, D-St. Louis, after his bill appeared to stall.


A plan by Missouri's largest utility provider and several other energy companies to construct a second nuclear reactor in Callaway County appears shut down at the state capitol.

Language from State Sen. Mike Kehoe's Senate Bill 321 bill would allow Ameren Missouri to recover some of the costs of obtaining early site permits for "Callaway II" through customer billing. Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, attacked SB 321 to SB 48, sponsored by Sen. Robin Wright-Jones, D-St. Louis, after his bill appeared to stall.

"I believe that we need another plant because we are using energy unbelievably," Jones, whose district is home to Ameren Missouri's headquarters, said.

Jones brought the plan to allow early site permit cost recovery to the Senate debate floor on Wednesday. About an hour into debate, Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer, R-Dexter, ruled that debate rules had been broken and struck SB 48 down with a point of order.

"I think if somebody was going to make a point of order, certainly that could have been done a lot earlier," Kehoe said of the procedural maneuver. "I felt that we got our position out, we showed that we had widespread support from senators all over the state and the various constituents they represented."

The apparent death of the early site permit cost recovery plan left Kehoe frustrated with the legislation's opponents. The senator who represents Miller and Morgan counties says nuclear energy will be needed in the future.

"The conversation needs to be had to see what we're going to do to go forward, because nobody else has come along and said, 'here's what we're going to do for energy in 15 years.' (Nuclear power) apparently, still seems to be the most acceptable way to move forward," Kehoe said.

Six major energy producers, including those that produce electricity for Lake of the Ozarks area cooperatives, endorsed the plan and are part of a recognized coalition that backed Ameren Missouri's Callaway II effort. Kehoe is a rookie lawmaker and could introduce a similar bill in 2012.

"The biggest thing will be trying to keep the partnership together, because many of the people that are a part of this group—the security alliance that they call themselves moving forward, the six companies we keep talking about—have said that they have other opportunities on the table where they may invest in power in other sectors, probably other states," Kehoe said.

Sen. Wright-Jones says Ameren Missouri will need to find a way to generate additional electricity to meet customer demand. She criticized the possible construction of a natural gas power plant, which she says will cause even higher electricity bills for power customers.

"Nuclear power will be cheaper in the long run. Ameren will build a plant. Do we want it nuclear or do we want it gas? If it's a gas plant, (cost) is going to be astronomical," Wright-Jones said. "We can't control the cost. (Nuclear) is the cheapest way to go."

SB 321 could still be introduced for Senate debate, but it would need to clear its assigned committee. Another nuclear site permit bill, House Bill 124 (sponsored by State Rep. Jeanie Riddle, R-Mokane) has been passed by the House Utilities Committee, but has not been acted upon since Feb. 22.

Contact Lake Sun reporter Rance Burger at rance.burger@lakesunonline.com.