Bill would make it easier to expand nuclear energy

? A House committee Friday approved a bill that its supporters said would make it easier to expand nuclear energy in Kansas.

“Whether you like it or not, nuclear energy has to be part of our discussions,” said state Rep. Annie Kuether, of Topeka, the ranking Democrat on the House Energy and Utilities Committee.

State Rep. Peggy Mast, R-Emporia, supported the legislation, saying, “nuclear energy is the cleanest and most efficient form of fuel we have.”

House Bill 2038 would exempt from property taxes expansion of the Wolf Creek nuclear plant near Burlington, or construction of a new plant adjacent to the existing one. It also would ease siting restrictions if the expansion is at the current facility.

Rep. Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence, said the current area of the plant, which was completed in 1985, was made to accommodate future expansion.

Utilities have said there are no plans to build a new plant.

But legislators said with increasing problems associated with climate-changing fossil fuels, nuclear energy is becoming more attractive.

“Bottom line is, if we are going to get clean energy, we need to increase nuclear power,” said Rep. Don Myers, R-Derby.

Rep. Josh Svaty, D-Ellsworth, spoke against the proposal, saying that future nuclear capacity will be built with or without tax incentives.

“We are going to give away everything, including the kitchen sink in tax breaks,” he said.

But the measure was recommended for approval on a voice vote and will next go to the full House for consideration.