Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm told lawmakers that she is open to offering federal subsidies to prop up struggling nuclear plants. Granholm spoke during a meeting of the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, called to discuss the Biden administration’s proposal for the Department of Energy’s fiscal year 2022 budget.
What she said: “The DOE has not historically subsidized plants, but I think this is a moment to consider—and perhaps it is in the American Jobs Plan or somewhere—to make sure that we keep the current fleet active,” Granholm said on May 6, according to E&E News.
“We're not going to be able to achieve our climate goals if our nuclear power plants shut down,” Granholm said. “We have to find ways to keep them operating. . . . I know the American Jobs Plan established an energy efficiency and clean energy standard, which includes nuclear, and that creates demand for nuclear power while cutting electricity bills. But this question of some direct subsidy of some way to support these plants to stay open, that is still an open question, but I know that this administration would be eager to work with Congress on it."
What else she said: Granholm was also questioned about alternatives to a waste repository at Yucca Mountain. She said the DOE was moving forward to develop an approach to find a consent-based interim storage facility. “The possible steps...include requests for information, engaging with stakeholders and tribal governments, establishing a funding mechanism for interested communities, organizations, maybe tribal governments to explore the concept,” she said, adding that the department hopes to announce next steps “in the coming months.”