FRANKFORT — A bill that would lift a moratorium on nuclear power plants in the state was approved by the Kentucky Senate on Wednesday.
Senate Bill 11 would amend statutes to change the requirement that facilities have means of permanent disposal of nuclear waste. Instead they would only be required to have a plan for its safe storage, and that the plans be approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
It would also eliminate several other obstacles to the construction and maintenance of nuclear facilities.
Sen. Danny Carroll, the sponsor of SB 11, said states need diverse energy portfolios to remain economically competitive.
“U.S. energy demand will rise 22 percent by the year 2040 even with modest economic growth,” said Carroll, R-Paducah. “That means the United States will need many new power plants of all types to meet the increased demand and replace older facilities that are retired. To ensure a diverse portfolio, many of these new power plants will have to be nuclear.”
There are currently about 100 nuclear reactors across 30 different U.S. states, Carroll said.
“As it stands right now, approximately 20 percent of the power supply in the United States is supplied by nuclear energy,” Carroll said. “It is an excellent source of baseload energy.”
Carroll said nuclear plants provide good-paying jobs and have long-reaching economic impacts in areas where they are located. He noted that businesses and industries sometimes look at a state’s energy policy before deciding where to expand. “They look at whether a state depends entirely on fossil fuels, do they promote green energy, do they have nuclear as an option?”
Even if SB 11 becomes law, it’s unlike that a nuclear plant will be built quickly in Kentucky, Carroll said. “However, energy policy must be planned decades if not centuries into the future. I think it’s very important that we look … at what the future holds for us and make sure that we make decisions that will serve us well.”
Senate Bill 11 was approved on a 27-8 vote and now goes the House of Representatives for consideration.