A billion-dollar program was launched on Tuesday to help struggling nuclear power plants keep operating despite rising costs, the US Department of Energy (DOE) said.
The $6 billion civilian nuclear credit program will provide relief to owners or operators of nuclear reactors that are expected to be shut down due to economic circumstances, thus avoiding premature shutdown.
Specifically, the program will see owners or operators of nuclear power plant owners bid for “credits” to help them continue to operate nuclear power plants, which are the nation’s largest source of clean energy.
“This critical investment, made possible by President [Joe] Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure law will help stave off premature reactor retirements across the country due to financial hardship, preserve thousands of well-paying clean energy jobs to support economies and protect our supply of carbon-free electricity generation,” the DOE said on Tuesday.
Applicants can apply for the first round of funding through May 19, the DOE said, and the credits awarded will last for four years from the date they are first awarded. Applicants can reapply for credits through September 2031, as long as funds are still available, the DOE said.
To be eligible, plant owners or operators must show that reactors would need to be taken out of service for economic reasons and that emissions would increase.
The department would also determine, with input from the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission, that nuclear power plants are able to operate safely.
Officials will also carry out audits over the four-year period during which the credits are granted and can resume credits if a reactor stops operating or if it does not operate at an average annual loss in the absence of credits.
The first round of funding will prioritize reactors that have already publicly announced their intention to cease operations, and a second round will focus on the facilities most economically at risk.
Biden’s civilian nuclear loan program is funded by the president’s $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure plan, which became law in November.
There are 55 commercial nuclear power plants with 93 nuclear reactors in 28 states in the United States and they generate more than half (52%) of the nation’s carbon-free electricity, according to the Department of Energy (DOE).
The Biden administration believes nuclear reactors are a vital source of achieving its goal of net zero emissions by 2050, but 12 reactors have shut down since 2013 due to competition from renewables and other economic factors, driving a increased carbon emissions in these regions.
The DOE said its new program “will equitably address these challenges while supporting the President’s clean energy goals to ensure communities across the country continue to see the benefits of sustainable energy infrastructure.”
“U.S. nuclear power plants provide more than half of our carbon-free electricity, and President Biden is committed to keeping these plants running to meet our clean energy goals,” said Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm. , in a press release. “We are using every tool available to power this country with clean energy by 2035, and that includes prioritizing our existing nuclear fleet to enable continued emissions-free electricity generation and economic stability for people. communities leading this important work.”
From The Epoch Times