Nuclear power gets another push in the US, winning over converts
Ms Capito argued that coal-fired power stations, which are closing as the country moves away from fossil fuel sources, could become sites for nuclear reactors. This would benefit places like his home state, which produced coal and depended on it as fuel for power generators.
“Ultimately you get to a point where you need something that’s not weather dependent, something like nuclear to make the grid reliable,” said John Kotek, who ran the Office of the nuclear energy under the Obama administration and is now vice president for policy at the Institute of Nuclear Energy, a trade association. “There are other technologies that are candidates to play this role, but if you look at what’s available today on a large scale, it’s nuclear power.”
Rising costs of other energy sources have made nuclear power more competitive around the world, including in the United States, which has the largest fleet of nuclear power plants of any country. They produce about 20% of the country’s electricity and 50% of clean energy.
The United States maintains 92 reactors, although a dozen have closed in the past decade – including, a month ago, the Palisades nuclear power plant in Michigan, about 55 miles southwest of Grand Rapids.
The owner, Entergy, decided to shut down the plant after a power purchase agreement with a utility expired. Entergy said it couldn’t find buyers for the plant and the dismantling had gone too far to bring it back online, even with federal government money.
Diablo Canyon is next on the downgrade list, but Governor Gavin Newsom has offered to extend its lifespan. The plant, located on California’s central coast, supplies nearly 10% of the state’s electricity. Pacific Gas & Electric, owner of the plant, announced in 2016 that it planned to shut it down when its licenses expired, saying it would focus more on solar and wind power as renewable energy sources.