Nuclear Option: With His Back To The Climate Wall, Biden Pisses Off Progressives By Spending Money Wisely

Written By BlabberBuzz | Thursday, 21 April 2022 15:45
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The Biden Administration is launching a $6 billion effort to save financially distressed nuclear plants in the United States. The significant investment comes as it seeks to deliver on its goals of expanding domestic energy production and reducing carbon emissions.

The $6 billion allocation is the largest federal investment to save aging U.S. commercial nuclear reactors, whose owners have struggled to foot the bill for high maintenance costs and compete with lower-priced natural gas alternatives.

In the past 10 years alone, these financial constraints have forced closures of a dozen U.S. nuclear facilities before the expiration of their licenses — including New York’s Indian Point Energy Center, Massachusetts’s Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station, Nebraska’s Fort Calhoun Nuclear Generating Station, and Iowa’s Duane Arnold Energy Center.

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The remaining U.S. nuclear plants are vulnerable as well. According to the Department of Energy, at least one-quarter of remaining nuclear plants are “at-risk” in the U.S., while the operators of seven active reactors have announced plans to retire them by 2025.

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“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,” Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said.

“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,” she added.

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Nuclear plants are responsible for about 20% of total U.S. electricity generation, in addition to accounting for more than 50% of all clean energy generation. According to the Associated Press, there are currently 55 active commercial nuclear plants in the U.S., with 93 total reactors.

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Keeping these remaining plants open and operational is vital if the Biden Administration hopes to deliver on its goal of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

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, which he signed into law in November.

A strong majority of states — about two-thirds — say nuclear, in one fashion or another, will help take the place of fossil fuels. 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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