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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Bill to allow more nuclear power plants in Wisconsin unanimously passes Assembly committee

Opponents say more nuclear plants could pose risks to nearby communities
Avda/Wikipedia Commons

In a 13 to zero vote, the Wisconsin State Assembly Committee on Energy and Utilities passed a bill Wednesday that would allow more nuclear power plants to be built in the state.

Currently, the state can consider the construction of a new nuclear reactor only if they can show that it would benefit energy customers and if there is a federal site to store the reactor’s waste. The bill, which Rep. Kevin Petersen, R-Waupaca and Sen. Frank Lasee, R-De Pere, authored, would repeal these two provisions.

While the bill itself does not guarantee the construction of new plants, opponents worry it will make construction likely to occur in the future.


Opponents to the bill stressed the safety risk of nuclear power plants. Bill Davis, director of the John Muir Chapter of the Sierra Club, said nuclear reactors’ onsite storage facilities are often in locations that pose serious safety risks to surrounding communities.

But supporters of the bill argued the storage facilities currently in the state are very safe. Matt Spencer, spokesperson for the the state Assembly Committee on Energy and Utilities chair Rep. Mike Kuglitsch, R-New Berlin, defended the safety of the storage sites.

“Storage facilities onsite are … the strongest things we’ve ever built,” Spencer said.

Aside from safety concerns, opponents also said power plants are too expensive.

Davis noted much of the cost gets stuck with the energy customers, saying cost overruns often fall on ratepayers. He also said the construction of nuclear reactors takes a long time.

Davis said he instead believes alternative energy sources, such as wind and solar, would be better options.

“You can get wind and solar and certainly do conservation a whole lot faster,” Davis said. “It’s going to be less expensive to do the cleaner energy alternatives.”

The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin is an independent agency that regulates utilities across the state, according to its website.

In an email to The Badger Herald, Elise Nelson, spokesperson for PSC, described the commission’s approval process for nuclear power plants in the state.

“PSC considers all regulatory, environmental and economic factors,” Nelson wrote.

According to PSC’s website, any utility company must obtain the regulatory committee’s approval before building a large power plant or charging rates.

Currently, nuclear power plants generate a large portion of Wisconsin’s energy.

NextEra Energy owns the Point Beach Nuclear Generating Station in Two Rivers, Wisconsin. In an email to The Badger Herald, Mark Kanz, spokesperson for NextEra, the company that owns Point Beach Nuclear Generating Stations, said nuclear power supplies 17.8 percent of the state’s electricity.

“The nuclear industry has provided safe, clean and reliable base load electricity … to the state of Wisconsin for nearly 45 years,” Kanz said. “It has also supplied the state’s economy with hundreds of good paying jobs. Continuing that can only be positive for the state and the nuclear industry.”

The full State Assembly will be the next to vote on the bill.

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