US lawmaker urges Biden to use emergency powers to save Illinois nuclear power plants


Representative Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) speaks during a House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing in Washington, DC, United States, March 10, 2021. Ting Shen / Pool via REUTERS

WASHINGTON, Aug.24 (Reuters) – A U.S. official in Illinois has urged President Joe Biden to consider using emergency federal powers to save two ailing nuclear power plants in his state as their owner draws closer to closing the first one next month.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a Republican, asked Biden in a letter sent late Monday to consider using powers under the Defense Production Act (DPA) or the Federal Electricity Act (FPA) ) to keep factories open until federal or state subsidy programs can make them economically viable. Copies were sent to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and other senior officials.

Exelon Corp’s (EXC.O) chief executive Christopher Crane said earlier this month that the company plans to shut down nuclear reactors in Byron in September and Dresden in November, unless a program from the Illinois or Federal won’t come to the rescue. Read more

The DPA, enacted in 1950 during the Korean War, allows the US government to order private companies to produce certain goods to meet the country’s national security needs.

Kinzinger said that under the FPA, Granholm could submit a proposal to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission asking it to determine the existence of an emergency and to require factories to remain open.

“The decisions you and your administration make on these matters in the days to come will have a substantial impact on the future of America’s energy and climate policy,” Kinzinger said in the letter.

The United States has 93 nuclear reactors, up from 104 in 2012, as aging power plants face rising security costs and competition from electricity produced from abundant natural gas, as well as wind power. and solar. Yet they are the country’s primary source of emission-free electricity generation.

The White House, the Department of Energy and Exelon did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Illinois has debated a clean energy package that includes subsidies for nuclear power. The bill has been bogged down by demands to shut down coal and natural gas-fired power plants, but the state legislature is expected to consider a thinner version of the bill on August 31.

White House climate adviser Gina McCarthy said existing US nuclear power plants in many areas are going to be “absolutely essential” to meeting Biden’s goal of freeing emissions from the power grid by 2035. The administration has supported the use of taxpayer subsidies to prevent nuclear power plants from shutting down and such a measure is included in its infrastructure legislation.

Reporting by Timothy Gardner and Scott Disavino in New York; Editing by Dan Grebler

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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