December 9, 2022

Michigan House advances nuclear feasibility study bill

The Michigan House of Representative last week passed a bill to initiate a feasibility study for new sources of nuclear energy in the state.

The costs of House Bill 6019 have not been determined, but the bill will require an extensive independent study of future nuclear energy projects in Michigan should the governor sign it. The bill would require both economic and environmental impact statements as well as recommendations for new nuclear energy power plant sites and safety criteria.

Michigan residents are being squeezed by home energy costs and rampant inflation pressures caused in part by record gasoline and diesel prices at the pump. Michigan hosts two nuclear energy facilities after the Palisades facility in southwest Michigan permanently ceased operations last Friday. Prior to its closure, the plant was estimated to have provided 20% of the state’s carbon-free energy.

“We have coal plants in Michigan that are going to be taken offline soon. As that baseload is lost, how do we fill that in and make sure Michigan families continue to have access to reliable and affordable energy?” Rep. Graham Filler, R-DeWitt, the bill’s sponsor, asked in a press announcement.

“Nuclear energy should be part of the discussion,” Filler added. “There have been incredible technological advances in the field over the past two decades. It’s a safe way to generate reliable power with minimal environmental impact.”

In addition to the shutdown of Palisades and coal-plant closures, Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is  attempting to shutter Enbridge’s Line 5, a move that could cause energy prices to skyrocket even further throughout the Midwest.

According to the House Fiscal Agency analysis: “House Bill 6019 would create additional costs for the Michigan Public Service Commission, which operates within the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. Engaging an external consulting firm to conduct the study would result in an indeterminate cost for the MPSC. The bill is silent on funding for the study, but an additional appropriation would likely be necessary, as the cost of the study could not be absorbed with existing appropriations.”

Jason Hayes, environmental policy director at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, is a proponent of nuclear energy.

“The MPSC needs to have a clear understanding of the potential value of nuclear energy to Michigan’s electricity system,” Hayes said in an email to The Center Square. “For decades, the state has had an abundant supply of reliable, clean electricity, and additional sources of nuclear energy would continue that history.”

However, Hayes warns about negative consequences related to direct government involvement in energy markets.

“Bills like HB 6019 should not, however, be used as an excuse to engage in further government intervention and subsidization of another source of electricity,” he said. “Government interventions have already done more than enough damage to market pricing mechanisms and the stability of our electricity service by propping up renewable energy sources.”

This article was originally posted on Michigan House advances nuclear feasibility study bill

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