A three-member panel has made changes to a bill that would put in place the regulatory framework for construction of a new nuclear power plant in Iowa, but critics say there’s still too much risk for consumers. Anthony Carroll of the AARP says his group doesn’t oppose nuclear power, but believes the bill is a bad deal for rate-payers.
“This is a game changer, an expensive raw deal for consumers,” he says. Environmentalists complain the bill doesn’t properly resolve questions about nuclear waste disposal. Senator Matt McCoy, a Democrat from Des Moines, says adjustments proposed in the bill give the Utilities Board more discretion in deciding whether MidAmerican can build the plant.
“The Iowa Utilities Board has asked for some time to properly staff up their agency so they can deal with some of these issues to bring on board consultants to look at the business case and rate case,” he says. McCoy also points to MidAmerican’s past record, as the utility hasn’t raised its electric rates in 16 years.
“They’ve always been honest with consumers and they’ve always worked hard to keep consumer bills down,” he says. The AARP’s Anthony Carroll says he doubts rates will stay low if MidAmerican starts planning to build an expensive new nuclear power plant.
Carroll says, “If you use last year’s reported numbers, it was one-to-three billion, and according to the utilities board, that translates into 7-to-21-dollars a month. Overruns are the norm,” he says. “You can quadruple early estimates.”
The legislation MidAmerican has been seeking cleared a three-member subcommittee Thursday and it appears headed for passage in the full Senate Commerce Committee.