Senate Bill 271, passed by both the Indiana House and Senate, directs the Indiana Utilities Regulatory Commission to adopt rules for granting certificates for the construction, purchase or lease of what are called “small modular nuclear reactors.”
Sen. Eric Koch, R-Bedford, the author of the bill described SB 271 to the Senate Utilities Committee as a bill that “will create a framework for Indiana, if it so decides, to move into the world of small modular nuclear reactors.” He called it only a “siting bill” that will allow the state to decide where such plants might be located.
Indiana doesn’t have any nuclear energy production currently, but the large D.C. Cook Nuclear Power Plant in Michigan, on the shores of Lake Michigan, generates power that services many customers in northern Indiana. The plant is owned by Indiana Michigan Power.
SB 271 directs the commission to take into account whether a facility using SMRs will replace a power plant no longer in use, and can therefore take advantage of the existing connection to the power grid, the already-established perimeter around the plant, and also a workforce that, Koch said, can be retrained to become a “nuclear workforce.”
The Biden Administration testified in support of the bill, saying the Department of Energy considers nuclear energy a source of clean energy.
In the United States, nuclear power provides almost 20% of the electricity used. There are more than 500,000 people in the United States working in the nuclear energy industry, with salaries that are 50% higher, on average, than other utility jobs.
SB 271 is expected to be sent to Gov. Eric Holcomb for his signature in the coming weeks.