US Administration commits $6 billion to preserve nuclear reactors

On April 19th, 2022, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced that it had launched its call for applications in the context of the Civil Nuclear Credit Program (CNC). This program provides six billion dollars to protect the historic nuclear plant. The safeguard of this nuclear plant avoids the premature closure of reactors due to growing economic difficulties in a deregulated electricity market.

In a press release published mid-April, the DoE insists on the vital importance of its historic nuclear plant in terms of energy. It reaffirms its desire to protect these infrastructures from any risk of early closure. Since 2013, 12 out of 93 reactors have had to shut down prematurely, resulting in a rise in carbon emissions, poorer air quality, and the loss of thousands of high-paying jobs.

US Energy Secretary Jennifer M. Granholm therefore wanted to recall the commitments made by the Biden-Harris administration to keep. these reactors active with a view to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. She declared “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.”

Economic threats

The challenge is to prevent further premature reactor shutdowns due to economic conditions. For example, guidelines associated with the Civil Nuclear Credit Program (CNC) tell owners or operators of nuclear reactors how to apply for financing in order to preserve their asset. The US administration is planning a global sum of six billion dollars to meet this need.

US Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee said, “I am pleased to see that the Department of Energy has worked with incredible speed and determination to deploy the Civil Nuclear Credit Program, authorized and funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. This will allow at-risk reactors to begin submitting bids over the next 30 days.”

As requested by many public commentators during the Request for Information (RFI) period earlier this year, the CNC’s first allocation cycle will prioritize reactors that have already announced their intention to cease activities. It will accept certification requests and offers in a single submission in order to implement the program in a shorter time frame. Future CNC award rounds — including the second round, which will be launched in the first quarter of the fiscal year 2023 — will not be limited to nuclear reactors that have publicly announced their intention to shut down.

Published on 28 March 2022

By Maximilien Struys

Copyright photo : DOE