Opponents to Battle Nuclear Legislation

The Oklahoma House passed legislation earlier this month that would streamline the review process for nuclear power plants, but opponents said the guidelines would protect utility stockholders while exposing ratepayers to financial risks posed by nuclear plants.
The proposal is one of several pieces of legislation supported by Republican House leaders that emphasize alternative forms of energy, including nuclear, wind, solar and compressed natural gas, as a way to ease the state and nation’s dependence on foreign energy sources and advance the state as an energy leader.
The plan comes 26 years after Public Service Company of Oklahoma proposed the Black Fox nuclear power plant near Inola. The company abandoned the project after a nine-year battle with opponents.
“The legislation puts our state’s future in the hands of the Corporation Commission and the nuclear power industry,” said Bob D. Rounsavell, public relations director for the Carrie Dickerson Foundation.
Calls to Rep. Scott Martin, R-Norman, were not returned.
“This legislation places all costs from beginning to end squarely on the shoulders of all Oklahoma taxpayers. It is patently unfair to the state’s citizenry and will drive electric utility bills through the roof, making it almost impossible for the marginal income groups including most senior citizens to afford electricity,” Rounsavell said in a statement.
The measure establishes a review process for the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to consider nuclear power proposals and creates a task force to consider tax changes that would encourage construction of a plant in Oklahoma.
The AARP, which publicly opposes the plan, has said consumer rate increases of 20 percent to 40 percent are possible based on an analysis of similar legislation in other states.
Nuclear power generation in Oklahoma is completely unnecessary, Rounsavell said.
“We have an abundance of natural gas, wind and solar available to power our energy needs for the rest of this century and beyond. Natural gas will probably be the long-term interim fuel,” he said.
Energy Expert Tells State Reps to Overhaul Electrical Grid
Susan Eisenhower came to Oklahoma and pushed for a modern electrical grid that would mimic the interstate highway system championed by her grandfather, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, in the 1950s.
The cost of improving the electrical grid nationwide is estimated to to run $60 billion to $80 billion. Private investors stand ready to make the improvements if the proper regulatory environment is created to encourage infrastructure growth, Eisenhower said.
“My grandfather used the bully pulpit of his office to be the champion of the interstate highway system, and I urge state leaders across this country to take up the mantra of electrical infrastructure improvement so we can take advantage of all the domestic energy sources we possess,” Eisenhower said.
The current grid, first created in the mid-19th century, has been “cobbled together” ever since, Eisenhower told House members. Recent electrical black-outs, along with ever-increasing domestic alternative energy sources, force the position that an updated grid is needed.
Electric grids are getting smarter. IBM, for example, uses a Texas lab to promote a “smart grid” designed to foster renewable energy generation and let people and utilities better manage electricity.
“Smart grid was starting to get hotter, but, post-stimulus, it is dead center at IBM and in the venture community we deal with,” said Drew Clark, director of strategy at IBM’s venture capital group.
President Barack Obama’s stimulus package devotes $10 billion to smart energy technology, with nearly half of the money designated for power grid innovations, according to Clark.
“We need an all-of-the-above energy solution in our country, but as we bring additional energy sources into the mix, we have to have a way to get that energy to the consumers,” said Eisenhower. “A more robust national grid would ensure the reliable delivery of power to American consumers and businesses in the future.”
House Speaker Chris Benge praised Eisenhower for bringing attention to the country’s needs of improved and expanded transmission lines.
“Oklahoma is poised to lead the way in alternative energies — in addition to our continuing commitment to our oil and gas industry — but without a power grid to get that energy to consumers, all of our efforts will be in vain,” said Benge, R-Tulsa. “Our state is in a position to provide energy to several of our surrounding states in addition to our own needs, but that economic development opportunity is dependent on infrastructure improvements to move the power out-of-state.”
Oklahoma is already ahead of the game with legislation passed last year to encourage transmission line growth in western Oklahoma to help move wind power, Benge said.
Among her many accomplishments, Eisenhower is president of the Eisenhower Group Inc., which provides strategic counsel on political, business and public affairs projects. She has consulted for Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 companies doing business in the emerging markets of the former Soviet Union and for a number of major institutions and companies engaged in the energy field.

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