ST. PAUL  (AP) -- A proposal to clear the way for new nuclear power plants in Minnesota has passed its first committee in the Republican-controlled Legislature.

The House Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved the bill on a 10-6 vote on Tuesday.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Joyce Peppin of Rogers, says lifting a 1994 moratorium on new nuclear power plants will allow utilities to consider nuclear energy as they plan for future demand. Peppin says renewable energy sources such as wind and solar aren't reliable enough.

Opposition came from environmental groups and Democrats on the panel who say they're concerned that ratepayers will end up paying more.

The bill's next stop is the House Commerce Committee.

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