Nuclear power plant bills get green light from Senate

Published 11:18 am Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Legislation that could lead to nuclear power plants being established for the first time in Kentucky won easy passage in the Kentucky Senate, Monday afternoon.

Sen. Danny Carroll, R-Benton, presented Senate Bill 198 and Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 140 to the chamber, saying the two measures seek aim to strengthen Kentucky’s multi-faceted energy ecosystem by moving toward the addition of nuclear energy, according to Carroll.

“This is not in any way critical of coal or natural gas, renewables or any other form of energy we currently utilize,” he told his colleagues. “I believe Kentucky needs to continue with an all-the-above approach. However, I also believe nuclear is the future of this commonwealth, and it is imperative that this commonwealth stay at the forefront and not get left behind.”

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SB 198 would establish the Kentucky Nuclear Energy Development Authority administratively attached to the University of Kentucky’s Center for Applied Energy Research and governed by an advisory board of representatives from numerous stakeholders throughout the state and national nuclear organizations.

The authority’s mission would be to serve as a non-regulatory, trusted state government agency on nuclear energy issues and development in the commonwealth. It would also support the development of Kentucky’s nuclear energy ecosystem in a manner that enhances the economy, protects the environment, supports community voices, increases energy education, and prepares the future workforce.

The authority’s purpose and function would include assisting local communities in understanding advanced nuclear energy opportunities, providing information on nuclear energy to the general public, developing economic opportunities, engaging with regulators, and promoting stakeholder collaboration.

SJR 140 would instruct the Kentucky Public Service Commission, which regulates utilities in the state, to make all staffing, organizational, and administrative preparations necessary to be ready to discharge its regulatory duties relating to applications for the siting and construction of nuclear energy facilities in the state.

Both measures were approved on identical 34-0 votes, after which Carroll said, “I’m grateful for my Senate colleagues’ continued open minds and support for Kentucky being at the forefront of this technology’s promising advancements. Nuclear energy development has a place in our state’s vast energy ecosystem and offers a brighter future for our communities, businesses and consumers.”

They now move to the House for consideration.