HB 1684 Could Fix Obsolete Law Limiting Missouri Energy Options

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In her 1957 novel, “Atlas Shrugged”, Ayn Rand introduced us to the concept of the “anti-dog-eat-dog” law. In his book, the anti-dog-eat-dog law was a law designed to thwart the competitiveness of efficient firms so that less efficient firms could compete. He embodied the antithesis of free competition.

And yet Missouri – a state that prides itself on freedom, innovation, free markets, and hard work – has an onerous anti-dog-eat-dog law that resides in its state charter code.

This law, Sec. 393.135, RSMo, prohibits electric utilities from charging their customers the costs associated with the cost of constructing power generation facilities until they are fully operational. The powerful 64-word law became law in 1976. As its supporters predicted at the time, it rescinded plans to build the second unit at Callaway Power Plant. It has also dissuaded the construction of new nuclear power plants for the past 45 years, and if left in law, it will block new nuclear facilities in Missouri for the next 45 years.

Attempts to modify or remove 393.135 have met with strong resistance from solar and wind power lobbies. Federal leverage and generous grants funded by taxpayer dollars have made their lobby powerful.

Wind and solar power will certainly play an important role in our country’s energy future, but their intermittence is a serious flaw. Obviously, they’re now backed by an anti-dog-eat-dog law in Missouri.

Wind power has become the first choice for advocates of renewable energy. Great Britain is a world leader in wind generation capacity. According to Wikipedia, Britain has 24.3 gigawatts (GW) of wind power generation capacity – 13.9 GW onshore and 10.4 GW offshore. However, it is the actual power output, not the capacity, that matters. So far in 2021, they have generated less than 2 GW 22% of the time and less than 1 GW 9% of the time. Looking for an explanation, some claim that the wind on the island is not blowing as much as it used to. Paul Homewood, a retired British statistician, noted: “It doesn’t matter how much wind capacity you have. Nothing percent of anything is still nothing.

The big freeze in Texas last winter made one thing very clear: Power generation facilities with “on-site” fuel storage are the foundation of energy security. During the big freeze, natural gas power plants broke down as pipeline pressure eased. It didn’t make any difference that Texas was soaked in natural gas. On-site fuel storage makes coal and nuclear power plants the most reliable and secure power generation options. Coal faces an army of frenzied opponents, making its future questionable.

Recent news headlines have focused on the US Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (HR 3684). The $ 1 trillion plan was duly adopted by Congress and signed by the president. Second. 40321 of the law allocates $ 6 billion for infrastructure planning of micro and small modular nuclear reactors. Unfortunately, I don’t think a state that has thumbed its nose at nuclear power since 1976 should expect to receive more than a few crumbs from that funding.

The Missouri Air Conservation Commission (MACC) is a bipartisan commission charged with protecting our state’s air quality. Nuclear power plants can generate electricity with zero traditional air pollutants and zero greenhouse gas emissions. As an advocate for clean air, the MACC passed, by unanimous vote, a resolution calling on the Missouri legislature to address Section 393.135 and the intractable roadblock it creates for funding and construction new nuclear facilities.

Representative John Black responded to the need to unlock the development of nuclear energy. HB 1684, sponsored by Black, could open the door to a more secure energy future for families and businesses across the state.

This coin originally appeared in the January 9, 2022 edition from The Missouri Times newspaper.

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