The Department of Energy yesterday announced that it has amended its Civil Nuclear Credit (CNC) Program guidance for the currently open award cycle and extended the deadline for credit applications from July 5 to September 6. The DOE was instructed to establish the $6 billion program by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, signed into law by President Biden last November.
The original guidance for the program was published in April, but the DOE on June 17 issued a request for public input on a proposed amendment after receiving a letter from California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office expressing a newfound interest in keeping the state’s Diablo Canyon nuclear plant in operation past its scheduled 2025 retirement date. The Newsom letter requested three changes to the language of the CNC Program guidance in order to ensure that the plant would qualify for credits.
With its amended guidance, the DOE grants one of Newsom’s requests: the removal of the requirement that a nuclear reactor applying for credits under the CNC Program not recover more than 50 percent of its costs from cost-of-service regulation or regulated contracts.
The extension to the deadline for credit applications can be seen as a response to a June 27 letter to the DOE from California utility Pacific Gas and Electric, owner and operator of Diablo Canyon. In that letter, the company’s vice president of federal affairs, Yvonne McIntyre, endorsed the proposed amendment but requested an additional 75 days to prepare an application. “The application requires a significant amount of detailed information, and given the recent direction from the governor, an extension is needed to provide PG&E the time to collect and analyze the information and prepare an application,” she wrote.
In yesterday’s announcement, the DOE said that 60 days would provide potential applicants sufficient time to prepare submissions.
The official word: “U.S. nuclear power plants are important clean energy assets, and preserving our existing fleet will maintain nearly half a million good-paying jobs in the nuclear industry,” said assistant secretary for nuclear energy Kathryn Huff. “The amended CNC guidance supports the intent of President Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure law to keep the reactors on line that sustain local economies and today provide our nation’s single largest source of carbon-free electricity.”