Thilly: Global warming co-chair says nuclear has to be an option
By Brian Clark
Roy Thilly, co-chair of the Governor’s Task Force on Global Warming, doesn’t think Wisconsin will be building any nuclear power plants in the next decade.
“I don’t,” said Thilly, who is president of Sun Prairie-based Wisconsin Public Power Inc., a regional utility that serves 49 customer-owned electric utilities.
Legislation to break the state's building moratorium has been introduced in the last several sessions, and a provision was added into the Assembly Republican budget. Gov. Jim Doyle removed the provision, along with 139 other policy items, in the revised budget bill that failed to pass on Monday.
The state currently has a moratorium on construction of new plants until there is a permanent federal repository to store nuclear waste.
Matt Canter, spokesman for Doyle, said the governor isn't ruling out any options until he sees the task force's recommendation, but he also doesn't want to be out front of a resurgence in nuclear power.
"His position is Wisconsin is not going to be the first state to build a new nuclear power plant in the country," Canter said. "Technology has advanced, but we don't need to be the lab rats for nuclear power."
Thilly said he doesn't know what any of the recommendations from the climate change panel will be when its report is finished early next year.
Thilly said he believes nuclear power should be considered as part of the mix to reduce greenhouse gases.
“My personal view – not the view of the task force – is that the issue of global warming and climate change is a very significant one,” he said. “To say that we can’t consider nuclear as an option in the future would be imprudent.
“From WPPI’s perspective, we ought to be doing much more right now to reduce energy waste. But in terms of going forward, if you are not going to build any traditional coal plants – which will be difficult, though it could happen – you’ve really only got two options”
Thilly said one is coal-fired generation that captures carbon dioxide and sequesters and safely stores it. He said lots of work is being done in the area, but no commercial plants using the technology are operating.
Moreover, he said Wisconsin doesn't have the proper geology to store carbon dioxide – though Illinois apparently does – and the process would be expensive.
“The only other option really is nuclear power,” he said. “I don’t think it is prudent to put all your eggs in one basket.
“That doesn’t mean I think Wisconsin will build a nuclear power plant in the next 10 years or so,” he added. “But when you are talking about 2050, I think you have to keep an open mind.”
His co-chair on the global warming task force is Tia Nelson, executive secretary of the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands. Other members represent industry, business, environmental and consumer organizations.