WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Martha McSally (R- Ariz.) today introduced legislation that would help curb harmful greenhouse gas emissions and enhance the economic viability of the current U.S. nuclear fleet by helping nuclear power plants operate longer and more efficiently.

The Nuclear Energy Renewal Act directs the Secretary of the Department of Energy to establish and enhance programs to help reduce the operation and maintenance costs of U.S. nuclear power plants, expand advanced modeling and simulation tools, and bolster research and development. The bill also addresses the shrinking nuclear energy workforce by creating an apprenticeship program to educate the next generation of workers and equip them with the skills necessary for this critical industry.

“Climate change poses an existential threat to our economy, our environment, and our national security,” said Senator Coons. “To address this threat, we need an innovative strategy to reduce emissions and enhance our ability to generate clean and consistent power. In 2017, the U.S. nuclear power fleet produced enough emissions-free energy to prevent the release of 547 million metric tons of CO2 into our atmosphere. I’m proud that this legislation will allow the Department of Energy to provide nuclear power plants with the requisite tools and research to increase their cost-competitiveness and develop the new technologies they require to operate efficiently.” 

“If we’re serious about reducing our carbon emissions, we need to get serious about nuclear energy,” said Senator McSally. “Arizona’s Palo Verde nuclear plant is the largest in the United States and delivers a substantial amount of carbon-free energy to Americans across the region. A combination of fuels—including nuclear, renewable and fossil—will ensure the U.S. can continue to lead the world in a true all-of-the-above energy strategy.”

“As the nation’s top producer of clean energy, Exelon commends Senators Coons and McSally for their leadership on legislation that supports the largest source of always available, zero-emission energy in the country – nuclear power. We look forward to working with members of Congress on legislation to help advance the future of nuclear energy,”said Kathleen Barrón, Senior Vice President, Government and Regulatory Affairs and Public Policy, Exelon Corporation. 

“Nuclear carbon-free energy is our nation’s largest source of clean energy. The research conducted under NERA will help us get more out of today’s nuclear reactors and will support America’s innovators in delivering the next generation of nuclear energy technology,” said Maria Korsnick, CEO and President of the Nuclear Energy Institute. 

“Breakthroughs are critical to maintaining American leadership in nuclear energy technology and realizing the enhanced economic, environmental and security benefits nuclear energy can offer,” said Michele Stockwell, BPC Action Executive Director. “This legislation helps to support innovation for existing nuclear reactor designs and the creation of our next generation advanced nuclear reactors. Innovation for both the existing fleet and future technologies are necessary to support the long-term trajectory of our carbon-free nuclear industry.”

“The future of advanced nuclear is really exciting but preserving the existing fleet is also essential to a clean and reliable grid. This legislation will help sustain the existing fleet in a safe and affordable way, while bolstering the domestic supply chain,” said ClearPath Executive Director Rich Powell.

A one-pager on the bill is here.

The bill text is available here