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Trump's nuclear bailout would cost up to $17 billion a year: NIRS

The Trump administration's proposal that would require grid operators to buy power from nuclear plants could cost US consumers up to $17 billion a year in "artificially high electricity bills" and adding subsidies for coal-fired plants could potentially double that, according to the anti-nuclear Nuclear Information & Resource Service.

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"Forcing the purchase of overpriced and non-competitive nuclear and coal power also would crowd out renewables, leaving the US farther behind in wind, solar and energy storage technology development and use," NIRS said Wednesday in a statement.

NIRS issued the statement following a news conference earlier in the day, during which Tim Judson, NIRS executive director; Peter Bradford, a former NRC commissioners and former chairman of the Maine and New York utility commissions; and Tyson Slocum, director of Energy Programs at the anti-nuclear group Public Citizen, criticized the administration's proposal aimed at saving coal-fired and nuclear power plants from early shutdowns.

"Betting on old, increasingly uneconomical nuclear and coal power plants as a national security strategy is like gold-plating a Studebaker and calling it a tank," Judson said in the NIRS statement. "And it would destroy the booming renewable energy industry, which is already employing more Americans than coal and nuclear combined."

"We have no military crisis and no threats of our system reliability or resilience that require this drastic and expensive governmental intervention," Bradford said in the statement. "The administration's warnings of dire effects from power shortages caused by shortages of reliable and resilient generation are contradicted by all of the bodies with actual responsibility for assuring adequate supplies," he said.

Slocum added that the proposal would cost billions of dollars and "bolster the profits of a handful of Trump's top campaign and financial supporters." Trump, he said, "is charging consumers billions to fill the swamp with undeserving special interests."

--Elaine Hiruo, elaine.hiruo@spglobal.com
--Edited by Valarie Jackson, newsdesk@spglobal.com