Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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States to debate nuclear power

Two grassroots pro-nuclear power groups from Wisconsin and Minnesota plan to hold a conference Monday that will feature a discussion on the future of nuclear power in both states.

The objective of the event being hosted in Hudson, Wis., is to draw attention to the need for Wisconsin to lift its 30-year moratorium on the construction of nuclear power plants so the state can utilize nuclear power as its primary alternative energy source, said Bob Seitz, spokesperson for Wisconsin Utility Investors, one of the sponsors of the event.

Seitz said the event will approach the nuclear issue from the industrial, state and federal sides of the issue. A panel including Wisconsin Assembly Committee on Energy and Utilities Chair James Soletski, D-Green Bay, and Terry Pickens, director of Nuclear Energy Policy at Minnesota-based Xcel Energy, will discuss the use of nuclear power in both states.

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Seitz also said many of WUI’s 16,000 members have been lobbying at the Capitol to lift the ban and make nuclear power a reliable power source in Wisconsin, which he said wind and solar power cannot be.

“Wind and solar are nice options to supplement,” Seitz said. “But you can’t base your electric generation system on wind and solar because they are too intermittent.”

Wisconsin Sen. Robert Jauch, D-Poplar, a member of the Committee on Environment, said the concerns regarding nuclear power’s safety must be addressed before the construction of more nuclear plants in the state.

“I think we should be considering nuclear power as a clean energy option to fossil fuels only when we are confident that we are dealing with it in a safe manner and can dispose of byproducts properly,” Jauch said.

Seitz said despite criticism, he is still confident in the cleanliness of nuclear power. He said the amount of nuclear waste created by nuclear power is less than the waste from other power sources currently used in Wisconsin such as coal and natural gas.

Seitz added the conference will also highlight how far nuclear safety has progressed over the years.

Soletski, who worked in the nuclear power industry for 30 years, said he sees nuclear power as a consistent alternative to many problematic energy sources Wisconsin uses today.

“If we keep a balanced portfolio, then we won’t be held up. … For instance, (by) oil from overseas, shipment of frozen coal in really bad winters when the coal piles get frozen and we’re forced to curtail the burning of coal to make energy, or days on end when there’s no wind or no sun,” Soletski said.

Rep. Mike Huebsch, R-West Salem, a member of the Committee on Energy and Utilities, said he thinks politics are the main reason for the continuing presence of the nuclear moratorium.

Politically there’s just not the will and certainly there’s a great deal of ignorance that I think opponents are capitalizing on with spent fuel and nuclear energy in general,” Huebsch said.

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