Nuclear Plant Bill Hits Snag in Mo. Senate

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JEFFERSON CITY - Legislation allowing power companies to charge electric customers for some costs of developing a nuclear power plant has hit a snag.

Missouri senators started debate Tuesday over the legislation after it was added to another utility measure. But the nuclear plant portion was determined to go beyond the purpose of the
original bill, which forced debate to end.

Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, said the setback likely ends the debate for the year. But supporter Sen. Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, said there are more avenues for discussion and according to his count, 23 of the 34 state senators are supporting the bill.

Crowell shot down the bill with a point of order, supported by Republican leader Rob Mayer. Mayer's district contains Noranda Aluminum, a company that would see its utility rates increase if the legislation passes. Noranda, Anheuser-Busch and Monsanto have all voiced opposition to the power plant bill.

A coalition of utilities wants lawmakers to allow them to charge customers for getting an early federal site permit. A state law currently bars utilities from charging customers for the costs of a new power plant before it starts producing electricity.