(Bloomberg) — Struggling nuclear power reactors would get a $6 billion lifeline under the bipartisan infrastructure bill heading for a vote in the U.S. Senate — a move supported by the Biden administration, but opposed by some environmentalists.
A program to evaluate nuclear reactors that are at risk of being shut down and provide them with aid would be created within the Energy Department under terms of the $550 billion, bipartisan infrastructure package.
The senators negotiating the package completed the text Sunday, moving the chamber a crucial step closer to likely passage this week. Final congressional action won’t come until after the House returns from a recess in September.
The proposed aid for nuclear power, which provides about 19% of the nation’s electricity, comes as the industry has undergone a wave of closures. Reactors have high operating costs and are increasingly struggling to compete with cheaper electricity produced using natural gas and renewables.
The assistance could be a boon for operators such as Southern Co. and Exelon Corp., as well as for uranium miners like Lakewood, Colorado-based Energy Fuels, Inc. Nuclear reactors that use domestically mined and enriched uranium would be given priority under the proposed program.
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