U.S. utility regulators recommend nuclear power as clean and asks EPA to incentivize nuclear reactor construction

Today the professional association of public utility regulators in the U.S. — the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) – approved several resolutions during their annual conference in San Francisco.

One of these resolutions is about nuclear power. This resolution advances the interests of the nuclear power industry.

Astonishingly, it states

“In the absence of a public safety or environmental concern, the premature shutdown of these valuable assets may cause economic, social, reliability and environmental harm to families and businesses”.

The public utility commissioners ignored all the safety issues and problems from these plants. That is shocking. Was the accelerating Fukushima disaster even mentioned in their deliberations? What about the harm from not shutting down these plants and from the new ones they plan to build?

This resolution, directed to the Environmental Protection Agency, now represents the official position of the utility regulatory commissions in the United States.

For more information on this conference, here is the conference schedule of workshops and presenters
and the list of attendees

Though these are state officials supposedly working for the public, the conference is almost exclusively a conference of the commissions and the industry.

For an article on this conference –

Note: “Baseload power” is an energy industry term for energy that is dependable and constant “all-the-time-on” power. Currently, that comes from coal, natural gas, nuclear, oil. To flip on a light switch and have the light always turn on requires baseload power. Wind and solar power are not baseload, because they are variable and undependable.

EL-1 Resolution Recognizing the Importance of Nuclear Power in Meeting Greenhouse Gas Goals

WHEREAS, Reliable, clean and affordable electricity is vital to local, State, and national economic growth, jobs, and the overall interests of citizens; and

WHEREAS, As demonstrated during the Polar Vortex of 2014, maintaining reliability and fuel diversity; while ensuring compliance with proposed carbon reduction rules, are common challenges for our States and we jointly recognize the need to maintain the existing, baseload nuclear generation fleet; and

WHEREAS, Nuclear power plants provide approximately 20% of the nation’s total electricity generation, and can provide carbon-free electricity for decades into the future; and

WHEREAS, On June 2, 2014, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued proposed regulations for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from existing power plants, known as the Clean Power Plan, in which EPA identified the avoidance of the retirement of existing nuclear capacity as one of the “best system of emission reduction” (BSER) methods;[i]1and

WHEREAS, EPA states in its proposed regulations that policies “that…discourage premature retirement of nuclear capacity could be useful elements of GHG reduction strategies and are consistent with current industry behavior;” [ii] and

WHEREAS, Nuclear energy has played a substantial role in the achievement of existing GHG State or regional emission reduction goals to date, and continued operation of nuclear power plants is vital to States’ ability to economically meet new federal regulations, and provides an essential tool to manage risks associated with potential GHG emissions reduction requirements; and

WHEREAS, In the absence of a public safety or environmental concern, the premature shutdown of these valuable assets may cause economic, social, reliability and environmental harm to families and businesses; and

WHEREAS, The United States Department of Energy, grid operators, and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) commissioners have cautioned that the premature shutdown of nuclear power plants could jeopardize both the nation’s electric reliability and the ability to timely address climate change; and

WHEREAS, The EPA’s proposed GHG regulations for existing power plants would lower a State’s allowed GHG emissions rate by counting approximately 6 percent of its nuclear capacity as being “at risk” and including this zero-carbon energy in the goal-setting formula, leading to lower (more stringent) emission rate targets for States that have nuclear power plants; and

WHEREAS, The EPA’s proposed rule treats new nuclear power plants under construction as though they are already operating, and uses their output in the rate-setting formula, which drives down the States’ emission rate goals, and

WHEREAS, State commission actions to approve the uprating of existing nuclear power plants or the siting of new nuclear power plants have and will play a substantial role in GHG emissions reduction goals; now, therefore be it

RESOLVED, That the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, convened at its 126th Annual Meeting in San Francisco, California, urges the EPA, to the extent it regulates carbon from existing power plants under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act, to adopt final GHG rules and regulations that: 1) will encourage States to preserve, life-extend, and expand existing nuclear generation; and 2) remove the generic approximately 6 percent at-risk nuclear and nuclear under construction from the calculation of State-specific emissions targets; and be it further

RESOLVED, That, to the extent the EPA regulates carbon from existing power plants under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act, that States may include in compliance plans and thus receive emissions credit related to all output of new nuclear capacity (including uprates of existing plants) that begins operating after the issuance date of the proposed rule.


Sponsored by the Committee on Electricity

Recommended by the NARUC Board of Directors November 18, 2014

Adopted by the NARUC Committee of the Whole November 19, 2014


[i] ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY, 40 CFR Part 60, [EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0602; RIN 2060-AR33, Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units, June 2, 2014, at p. 114.


[ii] Id., at p. 151-152