An attempt to lift a nuclear power plant construction moratorium fizzled Thursday in the Minnesota House.
On a 72-60 vote, representatives voted to keep the 15-year-old moratorium in place. Earlier this year, senators opted to end the moratorium, so the subject remains alive at the Capitol.
"Our future lies with renewable resources," Rep. Bill Hilty, DFL-Finlayson, said. "Renewable energy is a resource that we have in this state."
But Rep. Tim Faust, DFL-Hinckley, brought up the amendment to an overall energy bill because, he said, the state needs reliable electric power.
"Some days the wind doesn’t blow, some days the sun doesn’t shine…" he said. "We can build only so many dams."
Faust said there are just three ways to provide basic electricity all day – hydroelectric, coal and nuclear. Of those, he said, nuclear has the fewest downsides.
"Who’s power going to be turned off?" Faust asked. "Your schools or your town?"
But Hilty said no utility has proposed a new Minnesota nuclear plant and under current law new plants could be considered.
However, he added, if the moratorium were lifted customers could be charged expenses related to planning nuclear plants.
Hilty and others said that nuclear should not be considered until the problem of waste fuel is solved. Now, nuclear plants near Red Wing and Monticello store waste products on their property.