The Department of Energy (DOE) said it is seeking applications under the $6 billion Civil Nuclear Credit (CNC) Program from operators of nuclear power plants on track to shut down.
The Biden administration has identified nuclear power as a key component of its overarching climate goal to achieve a carbon-free grid by 2035 and a net-zero economy by 2050, according to the DOE announcement late Tuesday. The billions of dollars in government credits will be available to aging nuclear reactors that may soon close due to economic circumstances.
“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,” 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,” Granholm added.
The CNC program was included in the bipartisan infrastructure bill that President Joe Biden signed in November. The program was designed to help preserve the current U.S. nuclear fleet, a source of carbon-free electricity generation.
The U.S. currently has 94 operable nuclear reactors which generate 19.7% of the nation’s total electricity and 8.6% of total utility-scale electricity, according to the Energy Information Administration. But more than 20 nuclear plants are currently undergoing decommissioning, Nuclear Regulatory Commission data showed.
“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,” Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, the chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said in a statement Tuesday. “This program will keep our reactors operating, preserving American jobs, reducing emissions, and bolstering our energy security.”
In 2016, a new nuclear reactor located in Tennessee began generating electricity, marking the first to come online since 1996.
The Associated Press first reported the DOE announcement Tuesday.
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