Jan 26, 201611:18 AMInside Wisconsin
with Tom Still
Repeal nuclear moratorium — but don’t expect new power plants in Wisconsin
(page 1 of 2)
It’s hard to find a more knowledgeable advocate of nuclear energy than Michael Corradini, a professor of engineering physics at the UW–Madison, a past president of the American Nuclear Society, and a longtime advisor to governments at home and abroad.
But if you ask Corradini whether a bill lifting a 1983 moratorium on building nuclear plants in Wisconsin will make a tangible difference any time soon, his answer is a starkly practical “no.”
The reasons for his pessimism reflect the reality of the costs of building such a plant in a state where incentives to do so are virtually non-existent. Barriers include the low global cost of oil and natural gas, decades of planning and approval time, continued opposition by most environmental groups, and a state regulatory structure that doesn’t allow owners of a nuclear plant to recover costs in any reasonable amount of time.
Toss in the fact that energy demand in Wisconsin is relatively stagnant – the result of conservation efficiencies as well as economic trends — and the prospects for a “next-generation” nuclear power plant popping up in the Badger state are dimmer than a candle in a coal mine.
Speaking of coal, the slow but steady move away from coal as a power source for generating electricity in Wisconsin and nationwide is among reasons why the state Assembly recently passed a bill lifting the decades-old nuclear power plant moratorium.
Even those who deny the reality of global climate change know coal is among the dirtiest energy generation sources on the planet. It produces greenhouse gases, particulates, sulfur dioxide, mercury, and more when it’s burned, especially in the massive quantities needed to power an electricity plant.
Wisconsin utilities are trying to replace coal plants over time (federal regulations leave little long-term choice) with a portfolio that primarily features natural gas, wind, and solar power sources, along with electrical power transmitted from other states.