Nuclear incentive bill clears House committee

OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA - A measure that could develop incentives to lure a nuclear power generator to Oklahoma cleared a legislative committee and is headed to the full House of Representatives.

Cleveland County state Rep. Scott Martin’s “Nuclear Power Incentives Act” received a “do pass” recommendation from the House Energy Committee recently. Martin’s bill, House Bill 1750, would establish a review process for the state Corporation Commission to consider nuclear power proposals and would create a task force to consider tax changes “that would encourage construction of a nuclear power plant in Oklahoma.”

Martin said nuclear power could help diversify the state’s energy system.

“The national drive for energy independence means we need to diversify production and it simply doesn’t make sense to leave anything off the table,” Martin, R-Norman, said in a media release. “Nuclear power could safely generate a significant amount of low-cost electricity in Oklahoma.


Martin said the measure gives leaders the chance “to begin the dialogue” about nuclear energy in Oklahoma. “There’s a lot of interest out there. I’m hopeful we can keep the idea moving along.”

Oklahoma is one of almost two dozen states without a nuclear-powered generation plant. The last proposal, the BlackFox power plant, was scheduled to be built near Inola, but canceled after protesters waged a decade-long protest against the facility.

Since then, most state utilities have shown little interest in nuclear power as an energy source. But Martin, and House Republican leaders, said that attitude is changing.

“Nuclear power has a proven track record across the nation and all over the world, and it’s time Oklahoma began looking at this potential energy source.”

Martin said he recently met with representatives of the state’s electric cooperatives, Oklahoma Gas and Electric and Public Service Company of Oklahoma and all “have expressed interest” in the proposal. “I think they are interested in creating a sustainable baseload of energy,” he said.

Under Martin’s bill, an electric utility could file an application with the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to “seek a determination of need” to construct a nuclear power plant. If the commission approves the application, Martin said the power plant’s costs would be subject to cost recovery rules similar to existing rules for other power plants.

The bill also would require the commission to consider the cost of power and energy from a nuclear power plant “compared to alternatives” and to respond to applications within 180 days of filing.

Additionally, the measure creates a nine-member task force “to make recommendations on an appropriate tax credit” for entities investing in a nuclear power plant.

That task force, Martin said, would be appointed by the governor, and leaders of both the House and the Senate. The task force would be charged with determining “if an existing tax credit for production and sale of electricity by zero-emission facilities” should also apply to nuclear power.

“There hasn’t been any discussion yet on particular tax incentives,” he said. “That work would be done by the task force.”

Still, Martin said changes in the tax policy could “make a nuclear power plant more feasible” for Oklahoma utilities.

“The long-term benefits, such as lower electric bills for consumers, would more than offset the upfront cost to the state,” he said.

At present, 104 nuclear plants operate in 34 states. According to the Nuclear Energy Institute, there are 17 applications for 26 nuclear plants under consideration.


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