US nuclear power plants are losing $3bn per annum
PRESIDENT Donald Trump has a plan to help the ageing fleet of US nuclear reactors estimated to be losing nearly $3 billion (R39bn) a year: study the issue.
At the culmination of the White House “Energy Week,” Trump is set to announce a comprehensive review of US nuclear regulation, stopping short – for now – of the big federal interventions advocates say are needed to revitalise the industry, which is struggling to compete against cheap natural gas and dispose of its radioactive waste.
“I have no idea what a review will tell us that we don’t already know,” said Mike McKenna, a Republican energy strategist with close ties to the administration. “For anyone who knows nuclear, there’s no doubt about what needs to be done. It’s a question of doing it – not talking about it.”
In his speech, Trump is also set to describe how growing exports of oil and natural gas are creating domestic jobs, helping allies abroad and boosting the global influence of the US, according to a person familiar with the matter. Along with the nuclear review, Trump will highlight US coal exports to Ukraine, the person said, declining to be identified.
Rescuing the nuclear industry is a costlier, more complex challenge for the Trump administration. Subsidising atrisk nuclear reactors to keep them online to 2020 would cost an estimated $2.9bn annually. And making deeper market changes to better compensate nuclear power plants for the reliable, zero-carbon electricity they offer depends on action by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
While a committee on Wednesday approved legislation that would revive research on permanently stashing spent radioactive material at Yucca Mountain in Nevada, the idea is politically fraught and opposed by most of that state’s lawmakers. – Bloomberg
Acquanetta Warren, Mayor of Fontana, California, and President Donald Trump, who will ‘study the nuclear issue’.