Biden launches $  6B effort to save distressed nuclear plants

A certification and bidding process opened Tuesday for a civil nuclear credit program that is intended to bail out financially distressed owners or operators of nuclear power reactors, 미국. Department of Energy told The Associated Press exclusively, shortly before the official announcement. It’s the largest federal investment in saving financially distressed nuclear reactors.

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Owners or operators of nuclear power reactors that are expected to shut down for economic reasons can apply for funding to avoid closing prematurely. The first round of awards will prioritize reactors that have already announced plans to close.

The second round will be opened up to more economically at-risk facilities. The program was funded through President Joe Biden’s $ 1 trillion infrastructure deal, 어느 he signed into law in November.

행진 15, 2011: The Three Mile Island nuclear power plant, where the U.S. suffered its most serious nuclear accident in 1979, is seen across the Susquehanna River in Middletown, Pennsylvania in this night view.

행진 15, 2011: The Three Mile Island nuclear power plant, where the U.S. suffered its most serious nuclear accident in 1979, is seen across the Susquehanna River in Middletown, Pennsylvania in this night view. (로이터)

“우리. 핵무기 겨울 폭풍이 중서부에 폭설을 가져온다 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,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a statement. “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.

A dozen U.S. commercial nuclear power reactors have closed in the past decade before their licenses expired, largely due to competition from cheaper natural gas, massive operating losses due to low electricity prices and escalating costs, or the cost of major repairs.

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This has led to a rise in emissions in those regions, poorer air quality and the loss of thousands of high-paying jobs, dealing an economic blow to local communities, according to the DOE. A quarter or more of the fleet is at risk, the DOE added. The owners of seven currently operating reactors have already announced plans to retire them through 2025.

Most U.S. nuclear plants were built between 1970 과 1990 and it’s costing more to operate an aging fleet. The only nuclear plant under construction in the United States is in 그루지야. Costs have ballooned and another delay was announced in February.

The shuttered reactors include Indian Point Energy Center in 뉴욕, Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in 매사추세츠 주, Fort Calhoun Nuclear Generating Station in 네브라스카 and Duane Arnold Energy Center in 아이오와. Entergy cited low natural gas prices and increased operating costs as key factors in its decision to close Indian Point last year. New York officials sought the shutdown, saying the plant 24 마일 (39 킬로미터) north of Manhattan posed too great a risk to millions of people who live and work nearby.

Twenty more reactors faced closure in the last decade before states stepped in to save them, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute, the industry’s trade association. 일리노이 is spending nearly $ 700 million to keep three plants open while additional renewable resources come online.

Low electricity prices are the main cause of this trend, though federal and state policies to boost wind and solar have contributed as well, the NEI added.

DIABLO CANYON, 그 - 12 월 1: Aerial view of the Diablo Canyon, the only operational nuclear plant left in California, due to be shutdown in 2024 despite safely producing nearly 15% of the state's green electrical energy power, is viewed in these aerial photos taken on December 1, 2021, near Avila Beach, 캘리포니아

DIABLO CANYON, 그 – 12 월 1: Aerial view of the Diablo Canyon, the only operational nuclear plant left in California, due to be shutdown in 2024 despite safely producing nearly 15% of the state’s green electrical energy power, is viewed in these aerial photos taken on December 1, 2021, near Avila Beach, 캘리포니아 (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)

있습니다 55 commercial nuclear power plants with 93 nuclear reactors in 28 우리. . Nuclear power already provides about 20% 의 electricity in the U.S., or about half the nation’s carbon-free energy.

If reactors do close before their licenses expire, fossil fuel plants will likely fill the void and emissions will increase, which would be a substantial setback, said Andrew Griffith, acting assistant secretary for nuclear energy at DOE.

While natural gas may be cheaper, nuclear power hasn’t been given credit for its carbon-free contribution to the grid and that has caused nuclear plants to struggle financially, Griffith added.

The bailout for the nuclear industry is reminiscent of assistance the autoairline industries received after the 2008 economic collapse and the 코로나 바이러스 감염병 세계적 유행, 각기.

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With barely a month left in office, 전자 조지 W 대통령. 부시 authorized $ 25 billion in loans to 제너럴 모터스Chrysler 에서 $ 700 billion bailout fund initially intended to save the largest U.S. banks. 후 버락 오바마 대통령 took office in 2009, he appointed a task force to oversee GM and Chrysler, both of which eventually declared bankruptcy. The companies took an additional roughly $ 55 billion in aid and were forced to close factories and overhaul operations before recovering and adding jobs. Most of the industry’s bailout loans have been repaid.

최근에, airlines received $ 54 billion in taxpayer money to keep people employed through the pandemic, but they eliminated tens of thousands of 직업 anyway by offering incentives for employees to quit or retire early.

David Schlissel, ~에서 오하이오-based Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, said he wishes the federal government, before it allocated the $ 6 십억, had analyzed whether that money might have been better spent on ramping up renewables, battery storage and energy efficiency projects, which can be done quickly and cheaply to displace fossil fuels.

Now that the money is already set aside for nuclear plants, the federal tax credits for renewables should be extended and more should be invested in energy efficiency, 그는 말했다, because the faster that’s done, the faster the nation reduces its dependence on fossil fuels and its emissions. 또한, the nuclear plants are going to eventually retire, some sooner than later, so carbon-free sources of energy need to be in place for when they do, 그는 덧붙였다.

우리. Secretary of Energy Secretary Steven Chu speaks during a visit to the Vogtle nuclear power plant Wednesday, 2 월. 15, 2012, in Waynesboro, Ga. Chu's visit to east Georgia comes a week after the Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved a license for the Southern Co. to build a third and fourth reactor at Plant Vogtle. They will be the first commercial reactors built in the U.S. in more than 30 연령.

우리. Secretary of Energy Secretary Steven Chu speaks during a visit to the Vogtle nuclear power plant Wednesday, 2 월. 15, 2012, in Waynesboro, Ga. Chu’s visit to east Georgia comes a week after the Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved a license for the Southern Co. to build a third and fourth reactor at Plant Vogtle. They will be the first commercial reactors built in the U.S. in more than 30 연령. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

The Sierra Club has a nuclear free campaign that says nuclear is not a solution to climate change, 과 “every dollar spent on nuclear is one less dollar spent on truly safe, affordable and renewable energy sources.

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캘리포니아 is slated to close its last remaining nuclear power plant, Diablo Canyon, 에 2025. Officials there think they can replace it with new solar, wind and battery storage resources, though skeptics have questioned whether California’s all-in renewable plan can work in a state of nearly 40 백만명.

The Energy Department intends to accept annual applications for the civil nuclear credit program through fiscal 2031, or until the $ 6 billion runs out. Nuclear plant owners or operators can bid on credits for financial assistance to keep operating. To qualify, plant owners or operators have to show the reactors are projected to retire for economic reasons and emissions would increase. The department would also determine, with input from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, that they can operate safely.

Maria Korsnick, president and chief executive officer of NEI, said she thinks the federal program will level the playing field for nuclear energy and help clear a path to pass even more intensive policies, such as a nuclear production tax credit proposed in Biden’s now-stalled Build Back Better plan.

Democrats have said they hope to resuscitate parts of the social and environmental package and win over voters weary of the two-year-old pandemic and coping with the worst inflation in decades.

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