Magazine article State Legislatures

Nuclear Gets Zero Credit

Magazine article State Legislatures

Nuclear Gets Zero Credit

Article excerpt

Since 2013, six nuclear reactors in the U.S. have been closed, and another eight are scheduled to close in the coming years--often well before they've reached the end of their operational lives. Nuclear power provides almost 20 percent of the nation's electricity, but factors such as competition from other energy sources and low demand growth are making it more challenging for nuclear to compete in the energy mix. Several states have placed restrictions on the construction of new nuclear power plants, often citing the need for a high-level waste storage and disposal solution.

There are policymakers, however, who believe the benefits of nuclear energy--reliability, carbon-free emissions and the economic contribution to states and local communities--outweigh the risks. They are looking for ways to help construct new nuclear plants and educate the public on nuclear issues. Currently, there are four new reactors under construction in Georgia and South Carolina that are scheduled to come online around 2020. In the near term, the goal of a number of policymakers is simply to retain the current fleet of nuclear plants by helping them recover operating costs.

Some states have considered mandates, similar to renewable portfolio standards, which would require that a certain percent of a utility's electricity come from nuclear power. Recently, however, zero-emissions credits have seen the most traction. Similar to renewable energy credits, they are intended to reward nuclear plants based on the megawatt-hours of carbon-free electricity they generate. …

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