Despite the Obama administration’s commitment to curb carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the power sector, there have been many nuclear plant retirement announcements in recent years.
Now the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), is asking the incoming Trump administration to take steps to both improve the economic prospects of the existing domestic fleet and improve the chances for new nuclear reactors.
The energy sector has always been heavily shaped by government policy, NEI said in its policy memorandum to the Donald Trump administration.
Several key policies are needed in the immediate future and in the longer term to ensure the benefits of nuclear power for the long-term, NEI said.
Government at all levels should rewrite policy to have federal agencies buy nuclear power when they buy other forms of “clean” energy.
The previous administration’s Executive Order 13693, a clean air strategy which requires the federal government to buy more renewable energy, should be rewritten by the White House to allow nuclear energy to participate, NEI said.
NEI also states should be encouraged to have renewable portfolio standards (RPS) become clean power standards.
NEI said the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC): Existing reactors must be recognized for all the benefits they bring to the electric system, through the following changes:
- FERC should clarify that its requirement for “just and reasonable” rates that are not “unduly discriminatory or preferential” implies compensation for all of these benefits: high reliability and availability, increased grid resiliency due to operability under all weather conditions and no need for continuous fuel supply, and virtually zero emissions.
- FERC should work with the Independent System Operators and Regional Transmission Organizations to ensure that the competitive markets fully value all the attributes of existing nuclear plants, and the services they provide to the grid.
- FERC should address flaws in the structure of the markets it governs. Among these, the system makes “uplift” payments to generators that are not economic but are needed to assure reliability, but the cost of those payments does not enter into the price paid to other producers, including reactors.
- The agency should make clear that generation sources that by their nature tend to stabilize electricity prices and limit the risks from fuel price volatility should be compensated for protecting consumers by improving the diversity of the system.