Biden announces $6B to bail out nuclear plants at risk of closure
The Biden administration will put $6 billion toward saving distressed nuclear power plants from closure, viewing the power source as another carbon-free alternative to fossil fuels.
On Tuesday, the Department of Energy announced a new bidding process for submissions under the new Civil Nuclear Credit program. The bidding will be open to operators of plants that would otherwise be at imminent risk of shutdown.
The Biden administration has set a goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and called recently closures of commercial reactors a major barrier to reaching that goal. Reactors that have already announced closure plans will be prioritized in the first round of awards.
Twelve reactors have closed before their licenses expired in the last decade, which the U.S. Energy Information Administration expects will reduce U.S. nuclear capacity by 10.5 gigawatts.
“U.S. nuclear power plants contribute more than half of our carbon-free electricity, and President Biden is committed to keeping these plants active to reach our clean energy goals,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm. “We’re using every tool available to get this country powered by clean energy by 2035, and that includes prioritizing our existing nuclear fleet to allow for continued emissions-free electricity generation and economic stability for the communities leading this important work.”
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), the chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, praised the decision, saying in a statement that “quick, decisive action is what we needed from the Department, and that is what they have delivered by standing up the Civil Nuclear Credit Program.”
“This program will keep our reactors operating, preserving American jobs, reducing emissions, and bolstering our energy security,” Manchin added. “We have taken the reliability and resiliency of our nuclear fleet for granted and it is about time we acted to preserve these vital assets.”
The announcement comes in the wake of Germany shutting down all of its own nuclear reactors, which came shortly before an international energy crunch and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
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