Nuclear Energy Finds Growing Support

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Will nuclear energy ever have a level playing field with other carbon-free resources? It finally seems to be a possibility. And recent actions by lawmakers at the federal and state level protecting this valuable carbon-free energy resource have only reinforced this sentiment.

Energy Fairness has emphatically supported nuclear energy for many years, most notably with our support of Georgia’s Vogtle expansion project. Nuclear is an emission-free, extremely reliable energy source that has more than earned its place in our energy mix. 

In May, we wrote about Exelon’s Byron and Dresden nuclear plants in Illinois, which were in danger of closure. Closing the plants would have resulted in higher costs for consumers and higher carbon dioxide emissions. Why? Power providers would have been forced to turn to natural gas, not intermittent renewables, to fill the gaps in generation and maintain reliability. Fortunately, legislators stepped in at the eleventh hour to save the plants, not to mention the thousands of jobs they provide. The bipartisan bill provides $700 million in carbon mitigation credits to the state’s nuclear fleet recognizing the reliable carbon-free power they generate. 

“Nuclear power can’t be dismissed as a potential part of the long-term climate solution,” says a 2018 report by long-time nuclear skeptic the Union of Concerned Scientists.

New York faced a similar dilemma but instead chose to close the Indian Point Nuclear Plant. The closure wiped out a quarter of New York City’s power generation capacity and 80% of its carbon-free electricity. In addition, the closure forced New York grid operators to fill the void with natural gas-fired generation, ironically a fuel to which the state has been notoriously hostile. 

Nuclear energy is finding support at the federal level as well. In August, the $1.2 Trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R. 3684) passed the Senate with bipartisan support by a 69-30 vote. The Senate-passed bill authorizes and appropriates $6 billion over four years ($1.2 billion annually) to the Department of Energy to help financially struggling nuclear power plants stay online.

Giving nuclear plants credit for their zero-emission electricity just makes sense. It makes sense in the global drive to meet global carbon reduction goals. And It makes sense for consumers and policymakers who prize an affordable and reliable supply of energy.