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Pasta and policy with NEI's Maria Korsnick

Mar 13, 2024
Maria Korsnick

Korsnick at Tosca. Photo: Jael Holzman/Axios

A federal funding backstop may be the nuclear industry's next request in D.C.

Why it matters: Nuclear energy's had a great few years in Congress and at the executive branch. But announcements of new plants have remained elusive.

Driving the news: The Nuclear Energy Institute is in the "final stages" of getting members on board with a fresh request to the Biden administration for federal financing and "cost overrun insurance," the group's CEO, Maria Korsnick, told Jael.

  • Korsnick hopes this leads to an investment package attractive enough to spur builds.
  • She said getting more projects in the works will be crucial to defending nuclear's wins in the IRA, should repeal-ready policymakers win greater control in Congress.
  • "It makes it real," Korsnick said. "It's not just a tax credit on a piece of paper. It's a thing in my community that I'm going to see."

Maria and Jael chatted over lunch at Tosca. Here's an abridged transcript …

Clay Sell from X-energy recently told us he doesn't think there's anything left for D.C. to do. I'm wondering, is there anything left?

I think there is a public-private partnership opportunity … to have [these] two phases: Have some risk buydown, so think of [some] sort of grant money, some sharing between the company and the government, and a separate cost overrun insurance.

Who would handle the cost-sharing insurance? DOE?

Could be DOE. Could be Loan Program Office.… And we could design it as, you know, you as a company go this far, you pay for the first 25% to 50% and then something kicks in. It could be something like that.

If you could imagine having a package where if you're a state commission and I have this great idea, and I'm saying it's going to be good for your people, it's going to be good for jobs, and you say "What if it goes a little long?"

[This] relieves all this stress about you having it on your shoulders for having to make the decision, because if it goes off the rails, then it's on your shoulders. "Why did you approve it?"

Once you exercise this muscle and you start doing this build, you're going to create enough data points that I think the private sector, to Clay's point, I think they are ready to jump in.

Have you been talking to the administration about this idea?

We've been beginning to socialize it, but the first thing we need to do is get our members aligned, so we're in the final phase of that.

What is the question you get most often from people about nuclear energy?

When are you going to start building?

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