- Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) signed into a law a bill lifting the state's moratorium on new nuclear plants to create what he called a safe energy option for the state, the Associated Press reports.
- Previously, the law banned new nuclear facilities because of an absence of nuclear waste storage facilities, with the 1,646 MW Point Beach nuclear plant the only operating facility in the state.
- Gov. Walker defended his moving saying that more plants would be a boon to the economy by spurring construction, build carbon-neutral alternatives to fossil fuels and give assurances to businesses eyeing Wisconsin to locate that plenty of power exists.
Nuclear energy has been squeezed on all sides by low natural gas prices and high operating costs, which has forced some to shut down across the nation. But the resource might be able to gain some traction in Wisconsin with the state's newest law opening the door to new nuclear generation.
The former law forebade the Wisconsin Public Service Commission to approve new nuclear generation unless there was centralized waste storage facilities and it didn't burden ratepayers.
The new law erases those previous requirements, but directs the commissioners to first consider cost-effective energy conservation and efficiency before noncombustible and combustible renewables and noncombustible nonrenewable resources. And before they can approve new nonrenewable combustible energy facilities, they must consider advanced nuclear reactors approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).
The bill garnered support by unions representing engineers, pipefitters and construction workers, but faced criticism from environmental groups over the potential risk posed by nuclear facilities. Gov. Walker said Wisconsin is “really safe” for nuclear because the state isn't subject to the earthquakes and tsunamis that led to the Fukushima disaster, according to the AP.