It was a political protest with a Sci-Fi twist at the state capitol, Friday evening. Protestors tried to stop a bill that would green-light construction of a new nuclear power plant in Iowa.
Some state lawmakers say Iowa needs more energy options, and a bill working its way through the state house could be the first step. The proposal would allow utility companies to begin exploring the possibility of a new nuclear power plant. But opponents say even opening up the possibility is too much.
“And outrageous proposal deserves an outrageous response,” said Sonia Ashe, an advocate with the Iowa Public Interest Group.
Ashe’s goal is to get lawmakers’ attention about the bill that could bring more nuclear energy to Iowa.
“Right now we are concerned we don`t have any real answers with the safety risk and how do you deal with the radioactive waste for example,” said Ashe.
On top of safety concerns, protestors say they are worried about what this bill will mean for consumers.
“I think a lot of rate payers would care about the fact that their rates and utilities would be going up over the next ten years to pay for an energy that isn’t our best option,” said Ashe.
“It’s important that we not close doors on options as we look at what our energy policy is going to be not only for this century but the next century,” said Iowa State Senator Matt McCoy.
Legislators in support of the bill say they added several amendments to protect consumers including new language that says MidAmerican cannot charge customers until work has actually started.
And even if the bill is approved Senator Matt McCoy says that doesn’t mean MidAmerican Energy can immediately move forward.
“This basically says yes we`re going to look at small modular reactors, you have the option then of filing a rate case with the Iowa utilizes board,” said McCoy.
McCoy says the board then still has the option of saying no.
“But I think to have the opportunity to make the case, I think in my mind, MidAmerican’s earned that right after not having rate increase for 16 years,” said McCoy.
Lawmakers hope the bill is approved by the senate commerce committee on Monday. If that happens the full Senate could soon take it up.