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New Nuclear Power Seen as Big Winner in Obama’s Energy Plan


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The Obama administration is giving the struggling U.S. nuclear industry a glimmer of hope with changes to its carbon emission rules that mean new reactors will count more toward meeting federal benchmarks.

States will be able to take more credit for future carbon-free electricity to be generated by nuclear power plants still under construction when meeting their emission reduction targets, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said in a call on Sunday. The targets are required under the EPA’s landmark Clean Power Plan that was unveiled on Monday.

Under last year’s draft of the rules, the yet-to-be completed reactors were counted as existing units that wouldn’t be fully credited for carbon reductions generated in the future after they started operating. The nuclear power industry complained that amounted to a penalty on the plants and made state targets harder to achieve.

“We tend to view new rules as potentially the first bit of good news for the struggling nuclear industry,” Julien Dumoulin-Smith, an analyst for UBS, wrote on Monday in a research note.

Nuclear operators are being challenged by high maintenance and clean up costs as well as competition from cheap natural-gas fueled power plants and low-cost wind and solar generation. About 10 percent of the nation’s nuclear output could be retired early due to low energy prices, according to Moody’s Investors Service.

The question of waste disposal also hangs over the industry as efforts to establish a federal repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada have stalled.



Obama becomes Radioactive Man.

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