By Noah Rothstein

On May 26, Sens. Ben Cardin (D-MD), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Bob Casey, Jr. (D-PA) introduced a provision to uplift existing nuclear plants in the Clean Energy for America Act.

The amendment aims to provide a production tax credit of $15 per megawatt-hour for existing nuclear plant owners or operators in states with deregulated power markets such as New York, Illinois, and Pennsylvania. The credit would be reduced by 80% for any market revenues above $25 per megawatt-hour.

This amendment aligns with the recent push to curb carbon emissions by the Biden administration.

The Clean Energy for America Act, sponsored by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), includes a series of longer-term incentives for clean energy transitions and some tax breaks for fossil fuels. Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee took issue with the bill for its reductions in fossil fuel tax incentives, warning that it would result in job loss and harm consumers.

However, two Republican Senators on the Senate Finance Committee signaled their support for the Cardin amendment, increasing the odds of it passing.

New York state’s Indian Point nuclear power plant, owned by Entergy Corp, closed Unit 3 in 2021 and Unit 2 in 2020 due to several factors, such as reduced revenues from the plant and concerns from Governor Cuomo (D-NY) on its proximity to the most densely populated area in the U.S.

In Illinois, Exelon Corp said that it might close four reactors after three failed to clear the PJM Interconnection’s capacity auction, and subsidies to the sector have stalled. Much larger subsidies have been granted to renewable energy.

The U.S. has 93 nuclear reactors, the country’s top source of emissions-free power generation. Yet, aging plants have closed due to rising security costs and competition from other energy sources.