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DOE Establishes $6 Billion Program to Preserve America’s Clean Nuclear Energy Infrastructure

DOE Seeks Public Input on Executing the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s Civil Nuclear Credit Program to Ensure Continued Operation of Clean, Reliable Nuclear Energy

February 11, 2022

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today released a Notice of Intent (NOI) and Request for Information (RFI) on the implementation of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s $6 billion Civil Nuclear Credit Program (CNC). The nuclear credit program supports the continued operation of U.S. nuclear reactors, the nation’s largest source of clean power. Both the NOI and RFI are critical first steps to help avoid premature retirements of nuclear reactors across the country, preserving thousands of good-paying clean energy jobs while avoiding carbon emissions. The nuclear credit program is DOE’s most recently announced program to support the President’s clean energy goals and ensure that communities across the country continue to see the benefits of sustainable energy infrastructure.  

“U.S. nuclear power plants are essential to achieving President Biden’s climate goals and DOE is committed to keeping 100% clean electricity flowing and preventing premature closures,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm. “The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law makes this all possible by allowing us to leverage our existing clean energy infrastructure, strengthen our energy security and protect U.S. jobs. DOE is facilitating the development of next generation technologies that can ultimately lower emissions and bolster the clean energy workforce.”

Nuclear power currently provides 52% of the nation’s 100% clean electricity, and the Biden-Harris Administration has identified the current fleet of 93 reactors as a vital resource to achieve net-zero emissions economy-wide by 2050. Shifting energy markets and other economic factors have already resulted in the early closure of 12 commercial reactors across the United States since 2013. These closures have led to an increase in carbon emissions in those regions, poorer air quality, and the loss of thousands of high-paying jobs. 

The newly enacted Bipartisan Infrastructure Law created the Civil Nuclear Credit Program, allowing owners or operators of commercial U.S. reactors to apply for certification and competitively bid on credits to help support their continued operations. Today’s RFI seeks input on the structure and execution of the CNC Program, including the certification process and eligibility criteria, invitations to submit bids for credits, and the allocation of credits. The Department seeks input from all interested parties, including but not limited to nuclear reactor owners and operators, state and local regulators and officials, Tribes, impacted community partners, environmental advocacy groups, and other partners involved in clean energy and electric generation, distribution, and planning.

Under the law, applications must prove that the reactor will close for economic reasons and demonstrate that closure will lead to a rise in air pollution. DOE must also determine that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has reasonable assurance that the reactor will continue to operate safely. Credits will be allocated over a four-year period beginning on the date of selection to reactors that are certified by the Department.

DOE is also issuing a Notice of Intent informing interested parties of the Department’s plans to seek applications and provide potential applicants the opportunity to submit voluntary, non-binding expressions of interest in the CNC Program. 

“I appreciate that the Department of Energy is taking this first crucial step to implement the Civil Nuclear Credit Program authorized and funded under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law,” said U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “Ensuring the continued operation of our domestic nuclear fleet is essential to achieving our emission reduction goals while also maintaining reliability. I fought for the inclusion of this critical program to prevent further premature closures of nuclear power plants and to maintain high-paying jobs in communities across America.” 

Learn more about Notice of Intent (NOI) and Request for Information (RFI) regarding the establishment of a Civil Nuclear Credit Program. Responses to the NOI and RFI addressing general program design and bid process are requested no later than 5:00 p.m. Mountain Time on March 17, 2022. Substantive responses relating specifically to the certification process should be submitted by 5:00 p.m. Mountain Time on March 8, 2022 to ensure that this feedback can be used to meet the Department’s expedited schedule.

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