U.S. senator prepares tax credit legislation for existing nuclear plants

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WASHINGTON, May 25 (Reuters) - U.S. Senator Ben Cardin is preparing legislation that would provide a tax credit for existing nuclear power plants, a move that follows the Biden administration's signaling that it supports the subsidies to help meet climate goals.

Cardin, a Democrat, said he would soon introduce a production tax credit for the reactors, which are virtually free of carbon emissions and provide high-paying union jobs. "We'll attempt to get that included in an energy package," Cardin told Reuters on Monday night. "We're not sure the pathway yet."

The Biden administration has signaled to lawmakers and stakeholders recently that it supports the subsidies to keep nuclear reactors from closing and to help with its goal of decarbonizing the power grid by 2035. read more

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The United States has more than 90 nuclear reactors, the country's top source of emissions-free power generation. Yet aging plants have been closing due to rising security costs and competition from other energy sources. The costs for wind and solar power are falling, and natural gas is an affordable and plentiful alternative.

Two sources with knowledge of the matter said Cardin would introduce an amendment on Wednesday to energy legislation sponsored Senator Ron Wyden, another Democrat, to boost tax credits for zero emissions energy sources. One of the sources said that Cardin would withdraw the amendment after introducing it, in order to work further on the measure.

A Senate aide said in an email, "We are looking at the week after this work period/recess for a larger roll out." The Senate will be working from home districts next week after the Memorial Day holiday.

Such credits could help power utilities including Exelon Corp (EXC.O), First Energy Nuclear Operating Co and PSEG Nuclear LLC.

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Reporting by Timothy Gardner and Jarrett Renshaw; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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