A study conducted by the Union of Concerned Scientists and applauded by the Nuclear Energy Institute claimed that 21 of 60 nuclear plants in the United States are at risk of early retirement largely due to inadequate rates of return and lower pricing of other competing generation types. To combat early retirements, many states are establishing nuclear subsidy programs to compensate financially challenged nuclear plants for the environmental attributes of their electricity. One state in particular, New Jersey, whose nuclear plants provide up to 40% of the state’s electric capacity, has made progress toward establishing a mechanism to support financially challenged nuclear plants through approval of a Zero Emission Credit (ZEC) program. The ZEC program allows eligible nuclear plants to recover costs of $0.004 per kilowatt-hour for up to four years. The process New Jersey has established for nuclear generators to be considered for subsidies under the ZEC program, as well as the potential implications of such programs, is described below.
Application review process:
A major implication of the potential closure of 13% to 26% of our national nuclear capacity is the estimated 4% to 6% increase in carbon emissions nationally that would result by 2035. As states establish carbon-reduction targets, it becomes increasingly challenging to see how such targets will be met with the looming threat of early retirements.
State of New Jersey Board of Public Utilities: NJBPU Approves Zero Emission Credit Program and Application Process for Nuclear Power Plants
Additional Contributing Author: Rizwan Aslam
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