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Biden looks to revive old nuclear plants

Illustration of serious looking Joseph Biden on a nuclear icon pattern

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Biden administration this morning announced it's offering as much as $1.2 billion to keep aging nuclear power plants online, and even to revive one that recently closed.

Why it matters: Nuclear power is the largest firm source of zero-emissions electricity in the U.S. Many of those plants are old and increasingly expensive to run.

Driving the news: The Department of Energy is providing funds for plants at risk of closing in the next few years, Reuters reported.

  • The money comes from a $6 billion Civil Nuclear Credit program established in the 2021 infrastructure law.
  • Applications are open through May 31.

The intrigue: Plants that stopped operating after Nov. 15, 2021, are also eligible.

  • That enables the Palisades plant in Michigan, which had a funding application rejected late last year, to apply for the funds.
  • The ~800 MW plant closed last May when owner Entergy discovered a leak in the coolant system.

Be smart: The U.S. has never reopened a nuclear plant that's been permanently de-fueled, per Reuters and the Detroit News.

  • The idea has gained traction as some states and localities have recently faced energy crises while also struggling to achieve ambitious decarbonization goals.

Context: About a dozen nuclear reactors in the U.S. have closed since 2013. There are 92 still operating.

  • The average age of the country's nuclear fleet is about 40 years old.
  • The oldest operating reactor is Nine Mile Point Unit 1 in New York, which entered commercial operation in December 1969.
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