N.C. lawmakers trample veto of bill promoting nuclear energy

October 12, 2023, 3:08PMNuclear News

The North Carolina General Assembly has overridden Gov. Roy Cooper’s October 2 veto of S.B. 678—a measure aimed at incentivizing the development of nuclear power facilities in the state.

GOP lawmakers flexed their supermajority muscles in both chambers on Tuesday, rejecting the Democratic governor’s decision 30–19 in the Senate and 77–37 in the House. While the Senate vote was strictly along party lines, five Democrats joined all House Republicans to override the veto.

Newton

Bill basics: Introduced in April by Rep. Paul Newton (R., Dist. 34), a former president of Duke Energy North Carolina, S.B. 678 replaces the term “renewable energy” in state statutes with “clean energy” and specifies that the new term include both nuclear fission and fusion. The bill also eliminates language impeding the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) from issuing Certificates of Public Convenience and Necessity for nuclear facilities.

“[The bill] highlights nuclear’s critical importance as a carbon-free resource in our ‘all of the above’ strategy [for meeting emissions goals], and we remain committed to moving forward with exploring the potential for an advanced nuclear facility that brings jobs, new investment, and clean energy to our Belews Creek facility in Stokes County,” Duke spokesman Bill Norton stated in an email to the Winston-Salem Journal on Tuesday.

In case you missed it: In August, Duke filed an update to its 2022 state-mandated carbon-reduction plan with the NCUC, proposing the deployment of small modular reactors at the Belews Creek coal plant in Stokes County, N.C., which is slated for retirement next decade. A similar system would be added at a second site yet to be determined for a total of 600 MW of advanced nuclear. (Both the advanced reactor production tax credit and investment tax credit included in last year’s Inflation Reduction Act offer a 10 percent bonus for facilities sited in certain energy communities, including those with retiring coal plants.)


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