Nuclear Moratorium Bill Heads to Governor

Assembly Bill 384, introduced by Rep. Ken Petersen (R-Waupaca) and Senate Bill 288, introduced by Sen. Frank Lasee (R-De Pere) would end the moratorium on nuclear power plants in the state of Wisconsin. The moratorium, 1983 Wisconsin Act 401, was put in place following the Three Mile Island plant accident in 1979.

The Assembly Committee on Energy and Utilities approved the bipartisan legislation 13-0 in December, and was passed by a voice vote in the Assembly on January 12. The Senate concurred the legislation 23 – 9 in a floor session this week. The bill now awaits a signature from Governor Walker.

At public hearings for both bills, supporters offered that new nuclear technologies could bring down prices of producing nuclear energy in the future and would save the state money in energy costs. Rep. Peterson and Sen. Lasee have also cited new advancements in nuclear waste storage that makes the production of nuclear power far safer than it was 30 years ago. Additionally, Rep. Peterson said lifting the moratorium would help Wisconsin come into compliance with EPA environmental regulations and reduce Wisconsin’s reliance on coal burning plants.

Public Service Commission Chair Ellen Nowak has expressed her support for lifting the moratorium, citing the potential need to meet new federal standards that require states to use less coal. However, Wisconsin and 23 other states are currently challenging the Clean Power Plan.

At one time Wisconsin had three nuclear power plants in operation. However, the La Crosse Boiling Water Reactor was shut down in 1987 and the Kewaunee Power Station was shut down in May, 2014. The only remaining nuclear power facility in Wisconsin is the Point Beach Nuclear Plant in Two Rivers.