(The Center Square) – An Illinois lawmaker has advanced legislation looking to bring new nuclear energy plants to the Land of Lincoln.
Illinois is one of the top states in the nation for nuclear energy. However, there is a moratorium on the construction of any new generation facilities in the state.
State Sen. Sue Rezin, R-Morris, wants to do away with that moratorium, which looks to shut down all Illinois nuclear plants by 2050, through Senate Bill 0076.
"For over 35 years, our state has had an archaic and arbitrary ban on the construction of new nuclear power plants," Rezin said. "This moratorium has remained in place despite the fact that Illinois has efficiently and safely received carbon-free energy from our state's six nuclear stations for roughly four decades."
Rezin spoke before lawmakers last week and pointed to the reliability of nuclear power.
"We have a reliability problem with MISO [Midcontinent Independent System Operator]. It is possible to use the small modular reactors to produce energy, and it produces energy 90% of the time," Rezin said. "The reliability and resiliency on your hottest of hot days and your coldest of cold days, nuclear will always be working and online."
The state has aimed energy policies towards more renewable energy like wind and solar, which Rezin said will not change much even if her legislation is passed.
"Although wind and solar are an incredibly important part of our energy portfolio, we cannot provide the reliability and resiliency we need with only wind and solar," Rezin said.
The measure was able to advance through the Senate Energy and Utilities Committee on Thursday but did receive pushback from some.
The Nuclear Energy Information Services released a statement speaking out against Rezin's bill after Thursday's committee hearing. The group cited potential dangers as a reason the measure should not become law.
"SB0076 is unacceptable public policy. It literally prematurely and unnecessarily dismantles a successfully protective statute of Illinois law," the statement reads. "The recent Ohio vinyl chloride train derailment and the two Boeing 737MAX crashes demonstrate what happens when effective, demonstrably protective regulation is subverted, weakened, and ignored."
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