Environmental groups are raising concerns about the cost and location of potential small-scale nuclear power plants in Iowa. A proposal before the legislature would pave the way for permitting of the facilities. MidAmerican Energy’s John Davis says details on where the plants might be built are still being worked out.

“This is one of those processes that you don’t start with a preconceived idea,” Davis said. “It’s more of a process of where not to build and that’s the process we’re going through.” Davis on Monday addressed a House subcommittee that’s studying the bill. The Iowa Environmental Council’s Nathanael Baer asked for a “ballpark estimate” of the costs to energy users.

Davis said it’s too soon to determine that accurately. “The legislature doesn’t need to decide that piece. It’s a regulatory decision,” Davis said. Baer responded, “It seems like it would be helpful to know what this would cost rate payers when you’re looking at a policy like this.”

Davis said the cost of all types of energy is increasing, so any figure provided now could be drastically different when a plant is up and running. Representative Chuck Soderberg, a Republican from LeMars, said he doesn’t want the legislature getting into the business of setting energy rates.

The proposal would need to be approved by both the subcommittee and the House Commerce Committee this week to advance to the full Iowa House. A similar bill has been introduced in the Iowa Senate.