Part II of IV: Short and Long-term Solutions for Struggling Commercial Nuclear Energy Generators in Restructured Wholesale Markets

Background on the History of Commercial Nuclear Power Generation in the U.S. and How Restructured Electricity Markets Developed

To understand how market forces currently threaten the viability of nuclear power generators, it is important to know how the electricity sector itself has evolved over the years. Part II of this blog series briefly summarizes the development of the electricity sector, from the early advent of public utility law and cost-of-service regulation, to the expansive restructured wholesale markets through which most Americans receive their power. With that background, subsequent subsections discuss the particularities of nuclear power generation and how it fits into, and is struggling because of, these wholesale market structures. Continue reading

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Part I of IV: Short and Long-term Solutions for Struggling Commercial Nuclear Energy Generators in Restructured Wholesale Markets

Although the U.S. nuclear power industry has struggled to regain footing in the aftermath of Three Mile Island and Fukushima, nuclear power nonetheless plays a critical role in the nation’s electricity sector and will be a necessary resource to utilize in the struggle to reduce carbon emissions and combat climate change. Aside from concerns over finding a permanent waste storage solution, an increasing worry for industry members is how high-cost – but emissions-free – nuclear power is being undercut by low-cost natural gas in restructured wholesale power markets. Without a long-term market-based mechanism to account for the environmental and grid-stabilizing benefits provided by nuclear power generation, America risks losing this important, carbon-free, source of base load generation. Over the course of the next few months, I will upload a series of posts discussing some potential long-term market-based solutions to put nuclear energy on a level playing field, and furthermore argues for a nuclear feed-in tariff as a short-term solution for states with the most financially vulnerable nuclear energy generators.

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