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|Iowa Politics Roundup: Governor Blames Senate Democrats for Budget Breakdown - Page 2|
|Commentary/Politics - Iowa Politics|
|Written by Lynn Campbell|
|Wednesday, 01 June 2011 08:43|
Page 2 of 2
Opponents of Nuclear-Power-Plant Bill Release New Survey
Opponents of a bill that would pave the way for MidAmerican Energy Company to construct an additional nuclear power plant in Iowa on Tuesday brought new ammunition to the fight: new survey results showing opposition to the plan and a new newspaper advertisement.
AARP’s Iowa state office released new survey results showing that 72 percent of likely voters age 50 and older oppose a bill currently before the Iowa legislature that would allow energy companies to raise rates and collect from customers in advance of building a nuclear power plant in the state.
In addition, 57 percent of likely voters age 50 and older said they would be less likely to vote for a candidate for state office who supports this legislation. The survey of 400 likely voters was taken May 23 through 25 by Selzer & Company and had a margin of error of 4.9 percent.
“Let me make one thing clear: AARP is not opposing nuclear power or any other electrical-generation type here in Iowa,” said Tony Vola, AARP Iowa state president. “Our opposition has been and continues to be the language of the proposal that shifts risk from the utility companies and their shareholders to the ratepayers.”
Three environmental groups that also oppose the nuclear-power-plant bill on Tuesday ran a Des Moines newspaper ad challenging state senators to protect the public from MidAmerican Energy’s plan to raise electricity rates for new nuclear reactors that won’t provide power to Iowans for many years.
Those sponsoring the ad were Friends of the Earth, a national not-for-profit environmental advocacy group; Green State Solutions, an Iowa-based consulting firm that contracts with not-for-profits to advocate on environmental issues; and the Iowa chapter of the Sierra Club, the national grassroots environmental organization that’s tax-exempt under Section 527 of the Internal Revenue Code.
The latest efforts against the nuclear-power-plant bill come on the heels of Iowa Senate Majority Leader Gronstal saying Friday on Iowa Press that the issue remains alive in the 2011 legislative session.
“I think there’s still people working on that,” Gronstal said. “It’s a possibility.”
MidAmerican Energy is proposing a nuclear power plant that would sit on about 700 acres – on land about the same size as Iowa’s only nuclear power plant, the Duane Arnold Energy Center near Palo. MidAmerican hasn’t increased its rates since 1995.
MidAmerican President William Fehrman has said customers would see a rate increase of up to 10 percent during the next decade should the company proceed with the construction of a new $1-billion to $2-billion nuclear power plant. Such a plant wouldn’t come online until 2020. The Iowa Utilities Board estimates that rates would increase about $7 a month, roughly 10 percent on an average bill of $70.
The bill paving the way for the nuclear power plant, House File 561, was one of the more controversial proposals of the 2011 legislative session. The legislation cleared the Iowa House with a 68-30 vote on April 26. However, the companion bill, Senate File 390, has yet to be debated in the Senate.
Branstad has been among those advocating for the legislation. He told reporters at an energy forum last week that Iowa should not be ruling out any prospective source of reliable, low-cost energy that can be done in an environmentally safe way.
Similar legislation calling for “advanced ratemaking” was defeated earlier this year in North Carolina and Missouri, said Anthony Carroll, AARP Iowa’s associate state director for advocacy.
The AARP survey shows that at least three-fourths of respondents believe House File 561 could be improved if it allowed customers to get refunds if the nuclear power project were canceled or not finished, if it required cost comparisons of electric options before building a nuclear power plant, or if it set a limit on how much the utility could charge customers.
This article was produced by IowaPolitics.com. For more stories on Iowa politics, visit RCReader.com/y/iapolitics.
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