US nu­clear power plants are los­ing $3bn per an­num

The Star Early Edition - - BUSINESS REPORT | INTERNATIONAL - Jen­nifer A Dlouhy

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

PHOTO: REUTERS

Ac­quanetta War­ren, Mayor of Fon­tana, Cal­i­for­nia, and Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, who will ‘study the nu­clear is­sue’.

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