Report: Taxpayers 'Losing' on Subsidies for Nuclear Industry
Monday, January 10, 2022
To modernize the industry, nuclear power is making the transition toward smaller reactors. But a report from Taxpayers for Common Sense claims federal subsidies to help the industry along are a losing bet.
According to the group, the Department of Energy has spent more than $1.2 billion on small modular reactors, and could spend another $5.5 billion over the next decade to develop and demonstrate the new design.
Michael Maragos, senior policy analyst of energy and natural resources with Taxpayers for Common Sense, said there are a slew of supports for the nuclear industry up and down the supply chain.
"But the nuclear power industry is, by and large, struggling," said Maragos. "So there's this large dichotomy between what policymakers have hoped would happen through all of the various costly incentives and what is actually happening on the ground."
Part of the push to develop new technology in the nuclear industry is an effort to decarbonize power grids. Nuclear power is seen as a key source of clean energy in this transition.
The company NuScale Power is developing its small modular reactor technology at Idaho National Laboratory and has received federal investments. The Department of Energy did not respond to a request for comment before the deadline for this story.
The Idaho National Laboratory will be the site of the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems's Carbon Free Power Project. Current plans for the project consist of 12 small reactors that supply power to cities in six states, including Idaho.
However, Maragos noted that appetite could be waning for this project, which is targeting 2029 to go operational. Salmon River Electric in Challis has pulled out of the project and Idaho Falls has halved its commitment.
"We already see a number of towns that are supposedly going to be the ones benefiting from this brand-spanking new type of nuclear reactor shying away from the project," said Maragos. "And the reason is simple. It's going to cost a lot, probably more than we're expecting now, and ratepayers are going to be on the hook."
Maragos said the rate of federal subsidies for nuclear is unsustainable, noting money to transition the country to a cleaner economy would be better spent on technology such as solar and wind, which are cheaper to deploy.
"Nuclear power may provide some benefits in a world where we're trying to limit emissions from our power sector," said Maragos. "But those benefits are not worth the tremendous cost and risk that policymakers are asking ratepayers and taxpayers to bear."
get more stories like this via email
Secretary of State Shenna Bellows said a bill to require Maine voters to present photo identification in order to cast ballots is unnecessary and coul…
A bill to increase tax credits in the Commonwealth is backed up by research showing the credits lead to better nutrition for working families and bett…
Part of the deal Wyoming struck for sending its water down the Colorado River was that state residents would be able to tap electricity generated at G…
Wisconsin's primary election is two weeks away, and a high-profile state Supreme Court race is on the ballot. Several advocacy groups are behind a …
A coalition of conservation groups is giving Colorado's revised state water plan a thumbs-up for its increased focus on protecting Colorado's rivers…
Victims of investment-related fraud in North Dakota could soon recoup some of their losses through a proposed restitution fund. A bill to establish …
West Virginia is among a handful of states with the highest increases in educational attainment between 2019 and 2021, according to a new report from …
The state's "divisive concepts" law is preventing educators from holding rational discussions about race relations in America, New Hampshire civil …