- The nuclear industry is reconsidering its initial impression that it would benefit from the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed greenhouse gas emissions reduction rule because the rule allows only 6% of a state’s nuclear generation to count in the calculation of the 30% reduction from 2005 levels by 2030, while all of a state's existing renewables capacity counts.
- Energy Department scenarios show as many as a third of U.S. nuclear plants may be retired as states move toward compliance without providing financial supports or incentives to help nuclear facilities beat high operating costs and competition from low cost natural gas, despite nuclear's value as base load power.
- The EPA’s carbon intensity targets were initially expected to drive nuclear-dependent states to invest further where they have sunk costs in under-construction nuclear facilities or nuclear facilities up for re-licensing but it now appears those states may choose to draw on lower-cost options like new demand-side efficiency programs or renewables to fill out that part of their portfolio.
The Energy Information Administration predicts much less than a third of the U.S. nuclear fleet is at risk of retirement in favor of natural gas plants.
Exelon, the biggest U.S. owner of nuclear capacity, wants the EPA’s nuclear crediting mechanism improved to value all zero-carbon resources equally and wants states to provide incentives for nuclear's value in meeting emission cut targets.
EPA’s challenge is that, unlike wind and solar facilities, nuclear plants are so large that giving them full credit would allow states with plants under construction to escape further reductions and allow a single plant retirement to prevent a state from meeting its emissions cuts target.