DOE guidance for nuclear credit program’s second award cycle released

March 3, 2023, 7:02AMNuclear News

The Department of Energy has announced the release of application guidance for the second award cycle of its $6 billion Civil Nuclear Credit (CNC) Program.

Part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act—the $1.2 trillion bipartisan measure signed by President Biden in November 2021—the CNC Program was established to prevent the premature retirement of economically challenged nuclear power plants in recognition of the crucial role the Biden administration sees nuclear playing in achieving its ambitious decarbonization goals, including 100 percent clean electricity by 2035.

In its March 2 announcement, the DOE noted that while the initial award cycle limited eligibility to owners/operators of reactors scheduled to retire within the four-year award period, the second cycle is open to owners/operators of units at risk of closure by the end of the four-year period, including reactors that ceased operations after November 15, 2021.

Application guidelines in the second-round guidance describe the timelines, deliverables, and supporting information needed to apply for certification and submit sealed bids to receive allocated credits, the DOE added. Applications must be submitted by May 31.

What they’re saying: “President Biden’s $6 billion investment in the Civil Nuclear Credit Program made it abundantly clear that preserving the domestic nuclear fleet is critical to reaching America’s clean energy future,” said energy secretary Jennifer Granholm. “Expanding the scope of this bipartisan infrastructure law funding will allow even more nuclear facilities the opportunity to continue operating as economic drivers in local communities that benefit from cheap, clean, and reliable power.”

In case you missed it: Last week, Holtec International applied for funding through the DOE’s Loan Programs Office to restart the closed Palisades nuclear plant in Covert, Mich. The company had sought financial assistance to resurrect the unit through the CNC Program last summer but was denied in November. And while declaring in December its intention to reapply for CNC help, Holtec ultimately chose an alternative funding route.

“We found the loan program from [the] DOE to be a better fit for our needs and the timing of the money for distribution as opposed to how the CNC is structured,” said Patrick O’Brien, Holtec’s director of government affairs and communications, in a March 2 email to Nuclear Newswire.

Palisades’ 777-MWe pressurized water reactor was removed from service on May 20,2022, by Entergy, then owner and operator of the facility, 11 days prior to its scheduled May 31 retirement date.

Holtec completed its acquisition of the site in June with a company subsidiary, Holtec Decommissioning International, serving as license holder and prime decommissioning contractor. The following month, however, in an attempt to revive operations at the plant, Holtec submitted an application to participate in the first round of CNC funding.

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