Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Atomic Wait Nuclear Industry, Counting on Growth under the Clean Power Plan, Bemoans Supreme Court's Stay

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Atomic Wait Nuclear Industry, Counting on Growth under the Clean Power Plan, Bemoans Supreme Court's Stay

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON, D.C. - For an industry that said it was ignored by the Clean Power Plan, nuclear interests sure took it hard when the Supreme Court halted the rule earlier this month.

Existing nuclear power plants didn't get any credit for being the largest source of carbon-free electricity in the country, advocates said. There are no incentives built into the law to subsidize new nuclear plants or keep existing ones from retiring early, as more than half a dozen have done or plan to do.

And yet, when the Supreme Court stayed the rule while its merits are hashed out in a lower court, it sent shockwaves through the industry that was counting on the states' compliance plans to give nuclear energy the credit that the federal government didn't.

"Prior to a week ago, the big question we've been asking is what does the energy system look like to meet the Clean Power Plan," said Tina Taylor, director of strategic programs with the Electric Power Research Institute, speaking at Platt's Nuclear Energy Conference in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.

The D.C. research group is studying the possibility of extending the life of the nation's fleet of 99 nuclear reactors beyond 60 years. Otherwise, all but two of these plants will be shut down by 2050, taking with them nearly 20 percent of the electric capacity in the U.S.

"Trying to replace this much carbon-free electricity with other sources," would cost $100 billion if the country intends to get to the carbon reduction goals outlined in the Clean Power Plan," Ms. Taylor said. That is, a 32 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 from 2005 levels.

"It's imperative to remember that if you care about the climate, if you believe we need to make significant progress there, it's the electric sector that's going to carry the load," said David Brown, senior vice president of government affairs with Exelon Corp. "We will need to decarbonize and it's going to be nuclear that carries the bulk of that. …

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