March 17, 2010

IL Senate Approves Nuclear Rate Hike Option

This week the Illinois Senate approved legislation to lift the moratorium on new nuclear power plant construction in Illinois. The bill now moves on to the Illinois House.

Nuclear power remains the most expensive and dangerous way to boil water ever invented. The exorbitant costs (investors want no part of it unless us taxpayers are on the hook for the construction, operation, and cleanup costs), and dangerous waste problem have meant little to no interest in building new nuclear in Illinois for many years.

Current Illinois law recognizes one of the very real problems with nuclear power - the lack of any permanent disposal site for the waste. As a result, we have high-level nuclear waste sitting at reactors around Illinois, with nowhere to send it. Under current law, there is a moratorium on new reactors until there's somewhere to put the waste.

That makes a lot of sense. Not only would it be unwise to create and pile on even more high-level nuclear waste in these communities, but new nuclear construction would saddle Illinois ratepayers with certain rate hikes. It would also threaten Illinois' growing renewable energy sector, which is one area of Illinois' economy that is strong and growing.

I can understand the temptation of all the construction jobs created by building a new nuclear power plant, but they're really just a pipe dream. No one is going to build a new reactor in Illinois unless ratepayers are saddled with the costs, and if they started today most of the jobs would be many years away, and short-term in nature.

A far better option for creating jobs now, with no risk, would be the RENEW package of clean energy proposals to jumpstart the Illinois solar energy industry and continue the growth of our wind industry. Those energy projects are much cheaper, will create jobs much faster, and of course leave us with cleaner communities to live in rather than bigger piles of dangerous wastes around our state.

If you agree we should be prioritizing clean energy jobs now, tell your State Representative to focus on better, faster, cheaper renewables.

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