This policy scan summarizes recent state policy actions to support nuclear generation, recognizing the ability of nuclear power to reliably meet baseload power needs, help states meet their air quality and decarbonization goals, provide high-paying jobs and offer other benefits. It looks at three areas of recent state policy activity:
- Nuclear Procurement Targets and Zero Emissions Credits (ZEC) Programs
- State mandated power purchase agreements (PPAs).
- Inclusion of nuclear in state energy plans.
Together, these three types of policies are helping encourage use of nuclear generation and monetize value not currently being captured in electricity markets.
Nuclear power plays an important role in the U.S. energy and environmental landscape. The 98 nuclear reactors operating across 30 states generate almost 20 percent of all electricity used in the United States and nearly 60 percent of the zero-emissions electricity produced. In addition, the nuclear industry supports economic development across multiple states, including in many rural parts of the country. However, due to increasing market competition from natural gas and renewable energy, existing U.S. nuclear power plants have faced economic challenges in recent years that threaten their ability to remain in operation. Since 2013, seven nuclear units across the nation have closed prematurely and 12 more have announced early
retirement, representing more than 15 percent of the nation’s nuclear capacity.
Recognizing the role nuclear power plants have in meeting various policy goals (e.g., decarbonization, economic development, energy security and diversity, or others), several states have developed policy mechanisms to support exiting or new nuclear generation. Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey and New York have recently adopted substantial policies to support existing nuclear
plants. Pennsylvania and Ohio are considering similar support. Others, including California, Indiana, Ohio and Utah, have included, or at least not excluded, new nuclear generation in broader energy policies.