Cardin backs $50 billion nuke bailout

Production tax credit for merchant reactors would hurt electricity consumers and slow renewables

WASHINGTON– Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) this morning filed a nuclear bailout amendment to the Clean Energy for America Act, a renewable incentive bill. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) joined as cosponsors, submitting the changes the day of scheduled markup by the Senate Finance Committee.

The amendment would provide a $15 per MWh refundable production tax credit (PTC) for existing merchant reactors. Based on the number of eligible reactors, the estimated cost to taxpayers in lost revenue would be $50.8 billion through 2030. This would make the proposed bailout for existing nukes as expensive as Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden’s proposed PTC for the new development of clean renewables .

Exelon, the largest owner of merchant reactors in the country, reported lobbying just last quarter on both the Clean Energy for America Act and on “existing nuclear tax incentives.” In the 2020 cycle alone, Senator Cardin received $39,500 from Exelon, while Senator Casey received $138,231.

Friends of the Earth Program Manager Lukas Ross issued the following statement in response:

This nuclear bailout is wrong for taxpayers, wrong for ratepayers, and wrong for the climate. Investing in aging nuclear reactors is only going to delay the transition to a truly clean, distributed electrical grid. Senator Cardin should be more concerned with bringing affordable renewables online and less concerned with Exelon’s profits.

NIRS Executive Director Tim Judson issued the following statement in response:

Giving a $50 billion taxpayer subsidy to old, unprofitable nuclear reactors would be a massive, short-sighted waste of money in the fight against climate change. Renewable energy is far safer, cleaner, and more affordable, hands down. If Congress is serious about climate and environmental justice, the choice is clear. Unprofitable nuclear plants are going to close without a massive taxpayer bailout, so we need to use that $50 billion for solar and wind to replace nukes and reduce emissions as fast as possible.

Communications contact:  Kerry Skiff, (270) 300-4980, [email protected]
Expert contacts: Lukas Ross, (202) 222-0724, [email protected]
Tim Judson 301-270-6477, [email protected]

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