Nuclear should be part of state energy solution, PSC chair says
From an article by Brian E. Clark posted on WisBusiness.com:
MADISON — Eric Callisto, chairman of the state Public Service Commission, predicts the Legislature will soon open the door to building new nuclear power plants in Wisconsin.
Speaking Monday at an energy conference organized by WisPolitics.com-WisBusiness.com, Callisto said the Democratic-controlled Assembly and Senate will enact the Governor’s Global Warming Task Force recommendations. And that includes modifying the language on the long-time moratorium on building nuke plants.
“It will be part of the package to reduce our carbon emissions,” said Callisto, who added that certain conditions would have to be met before the nuclear option could be considered.
Tia Nelson, who co-chaired the task force and participated in one of the conference panels, noted the task force didn’t recommend lifting the moratorium.
“It will happen only if stringent conditions are met,” she said. “I don’t believe nuclear plants are a near-term option. We should be pursuing the low-hanging fruit at this point, and that is conservation and energy efficiency. Right now, nuclear is a distraction.”
But Callisto said he is “optimistic (lawmakers) will take it up and move this issue forward. … Nuclear needs to be part of the solution.”
Three nuclear plants currently operate in the state — in Kewaunee, Point Beach, and on the UW-Madison campus.
Former Assembly Speaker Mike Huebsch, R-West Salem, a longtime champion of exploring the nuke option, said he was pleased with Callisto’s comments.
“This is the first ray of sunlight in dealing with our need for power without adding to our greenhouse gas emissions,” Huebsch said. “There is nowhere else to go.
“Still, I’m concerned the moratorium will be lifted too late and that we’ll be 15 to 20 years behind,” said.
The task force report says new nuclear could be considered only if: recommended policies for conservation, efficiency and renewable energy are enacted; the PSC finds that a new nuclear power plant is “safe, economic and in the public interest;” the electricity is either generated by or sold to a Wisconsin utility; and the power is sold to electricity customers in the state.