June 24, 2021

Cardin, Manchin, Carper, Whitehouse, Booker Introduce Bill to Extend Production Tax Credit for Zero-Emission Energy Sources to Existing Nuclear Plants

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) have introduced the Zero-Emission Nuclear Power Production Credit Act of 2021 (S. 2291) that would make existing merchant nuclear power owners/operators eligible for the same 1.5 cent/kilowatt hour credit ($15/megawatt hour) proposed for wind operators. America’s nuclear reactors provide one-fifth of our nation’s electricity and over half of all emission-free energy in this country.

“America needs to reduce our reliance of fossil fuels, so it is imperative that we keep these reactors operating safely while we continue to work on demand reduction, renewables, energy storage, and transmission grid resiliency,” said Senator Cardin, a senior member of Senate Finance Committee and member of the Environment and Public Works Clean Air, Climate, and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee. “Reducing air pollution and dangerous greenhouse gas pollution is good for the environment, public health, and our economic and our national security.”

“Maintaining the zero-emission, baseload power our nuclear fleet provides and preventing further retirements of our nuclear reactors is critical to achieving any emission reduction goals. In 2019, nuclear alone prevented 476 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from being emitted and represents 55 percent of total emission-free electricity in the United States,” said Senator Manchin, Chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “The Zero-Emission Nuclear Power Production Credit Act of 2021 is critical to ensuring this zero-emission electricity generation can continue over the next decade.”

“America’s nuclear power plants generate more than half of the country’s carbon-free power, and form a crucial component in our fight against the climate crisis,” said Senator Carper, Chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. “But in recent years, too many of these plants have prematurely shut down due to market forces, and additional closures pose a growing threat to our efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector. The Zero-Emission Nuclear Power Production Credit Act of 2021 would help solve this problem by providing much-needed tax credits and financial certainty to our existing nuclear fleet, and I’d like to thank Senator Cardin for his leadership on this important measure.”

“Right now, fossil fuel companies enjoy a $600 billion subsidy in the U.S., even as their products drive us toward a dangerous climate tipping point,” said Senator Whitehouse, a member of the EPW Clean Air, Climate, and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee. “We ought to make sure safe nuclear facilities can compete with fossil fuel polluters and continue to produce carbon-free energy.  That’s what this bill will do.”

“Nuclear energy is an important piece of the puzzle as we race against the clock to reduce carbon emissions and address climate change,” said Senator Booker. “The production tax credit in this legislation will help keep our existing fleet of nuclear reactors safely operating, and needs to be included in comprehensive climate change legislation this year.”

Current tax law provides a production tax credit for eligible nuclear power facilities only during the first eight years of operations. There is no tax credit for older nuclear power plants, many of which are retiring before the end of their useful life due to a drop in energy prices. The proposed credit would phase out if market revenues reach 2.5 cents/kilowatt hour ($25/megawatt hour), if Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG) drop 50 percent from 2020 levels, or after 10 years.

Labor unions and other organizations supporting a nuclear production tax credit include: American Nuclear Society, Bipartisan Policy Center Action, Breakthrough Institute, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, Centrus Energy Corp., Excel Services Corporation, Framatome, GE Hitachi, Generation Atomic, Good Energy Collective, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Mothers for Nuclear, North America’s Building Trade Unions, North American Young Generation in Nuclear, Nuclear Energy Institute, Nuclear Matters, Orano USA, Protect Nuclear Now, Sensible Energy Matters to America, Studsvik Scandpower, Inc., Third Way, United Brotherhood of Carpenters, United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters, Western Services Corporation, Westinghouse Electric Company, Women in Nuclear, and X-energy. A letter of support can be downloaded here.

###