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Thursday, April 21, 2011
Ameren Lobbyists Woo Lawmakers with Tickets to Lil Wayne Concert
Opponents plan protest while Ameren board meets in Powell Hall
By Jo Mannies
April 20, 2011
Opponents of the legislative effort to allow utilities to collect money from customers to help pay for a site permit for a possible future nuclear power plant plan to hold a protest rally early Thursday outside Ameren's shareholders meeting in Powell Hall.
The rally is being held despite the opinion of the bill's handler in the Senate that it likely won't get through the chamber before the session ends May 13.
The bill in question, Senate Bill 48, would reverse part of the state's current law -- put in place by voters in 1976 -- that bars utilities from using customers' payments to finance some of the costs of new power plants before they are in operation. Ameren and Gov. Jay Nixon, along with some construction unions, have been encouraging construction of another nuclear plant in the state.
Ed Smith, coordinator of the opposition effort for the Missouri Coalition for the Environment, said today's protest reflected opponents' fears that the bill may be resurrected. "We have seen legislation in the past creep back up in the last day,'' he said.
Opponents cite last weekend's actions by Ameren and its lobbyists, who appeared to woo some area legislators by providing tickets to the Lil Wayne concert.
Smith said that his side also has other issues to raise with Ameren. He said the board is expected to be asked to vote Thursday on a proposal that, in effect, "eliminates the ability of the shareholders to sue the board of directors in the case of a nuclear meltdown."
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