US nuclear industry calls for more federal support

Diable Canyon nuclear plant in California (Credit: Marya, Wikimedia Commons)

The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), which represents the nuclear industry in the US, is calling for a comprehensive package of federal policies, financing and tax incentives to support a major expansion.

The US currently has 104 nuclear reactors spread across 31 states, which provide 20% of the nation’s electricity and 72% of its low-carbon supply.

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission has received around 25 license applications for new reactors over the last two years, some of which could start operating as soon as 2016-18 if given the go ahead.

The NEI wants to see the creation of a Clean Energy Deployment Administration to act as a permanent financing mechanism for new plants. It is also calling for significant tax incentives to support industry development.

However, the Union of Concerned Scientists says the plans amount to a request for $100 billion in new federal loan guarantees on top of the $110 billion loan guarantees already agreed by Congress.

“It is truly staggering that an industry this big and this mature can claim to need so much government help to survive and thrive in a world in which technologies that don’t emit global warming pollution will benefit,” says Ellen Vancko of the UCS. “If the nuclear industry gets its way, Christmas will come early this year – thanks to US taxpayers.”

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02 November 2009