The Biden administration is launching a $6 billion effort to save nuclear power plants at risk of closing, citing the need to continue nuclear energy as a carbon-free source of power that helps to combat climate change. A certification and bidding process was opened Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Energy for a civil nuclear credit program that is intended to bail out financially distressed owners or operators of nuclear power reactors, making it the largest federal investment in saving financially distressed nuclear reactors.
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 Biden’s $1 trillion infrastructure deal, which he signed into law in November.
Most US nuclear plants were built between 1970 and 1990; the only nuclear plant under construction in the United States is in Georgia. Shuttered reactors include Indian Point Energy Center in New York, Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Massachusetts, Fort Calhoun Nuclear Generating Station in Nebraska and Duane Arnold Energy Center in Iowa. New York officials sought the shutdown of Indian Point, saying the plant 24 miles north of Manhattan posed too great a risk to millions of people who live and work nearby.
There are 55 commercial nuclear power plants with 93 nuclear reactors in 28 US states. 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
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