Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R., Ill.) last week introduced legislation to help economically troubled nuclear power plants and authorize funding for “nuclear closure communities.”
The Preserving Existing Nuclear Energy Generation Act (H.R. 9015)—introduced in the House on December 17 and cosponsored by Rep. Mike Doyle (D., Pa.)—is a companion bill to the American Nuclear Infrastructure Act (S. 4897), the bipartisan measure introduced in the Senate in November and moved to the Senate floor earlier this month. On December 18, H.R. 9015 was referred to the House Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment.
Making the case: “The greatest source of zero-emission bulk power in this country is slowly dying on the vine,” Kinzinger said, adding that in Illinois 11 operating nuclear reactors provide 88 percent of the state’s emission-free electricity. "But a combination of factors, including misguided fears about nuclear power, have hampered the political will to ensure this revolutionary technology continues to power our neighborhoods, schools, and communities," he said.
“I believe in a state's right to determine its own energy portfolio," Kinzinger continued, "but what I'm seeing is massive public support across Illinois for nuclear being met with political gridlock in Springfield. So now, it’s time for a federal solution.”
Bill basics: H.R. 9015 would allocate financial credits to “certified” reactors through an “emissions avoidance program” to be established by the Environmental Protection Agency administrator in consultation with the secretary of energy. To be certified for the program, a reactor would have to reside in the licensee response column of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s reactor oversight process action matrix (indicating no significant safety issues) and be “projected to cease operations due to economic factors.” In addition, plant operators would be required to provide information showing that the level of greenhouse gas emissions would rise if the reactor were to close and be replaced by another type of power generation.
H.R. 9015 would further establish a grant program to provide financial aid to local governments impacted by plant closures and assist with local economic development.