What is the Civil Nuclear Credit Program?

The Civil Nuclear Credit Program is a $6 billion strategic investment through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) to help preserve the existing U.S. reactor fleet and save thousands of high-paying jobs across the country. 

Under the new program, owners or operators of commercial U.S. reactors can apply for certification to bid on credits to support their continued operations.

An application must demonstrate the reactor is projected to close for economic reasons and that closure will lead to a rise in air pollutants.

Credits will be allocated to selected certified reactors over a four-year period beginning on the date of the selection and credits can be awarded through September 30, 2031, if funds remain available. 

Why Do We Need the Civil Nuclear Credit Program?

Shifting energy markets and other economic factors have already led to early closures of 13 commercial nuclear power reactors across the United States in the last decade. More economically at-risk facilities could retire in the coming years. Closing nuclear power plants results in an increase in air pollutants because other types of power plants with higher air pollutants typically fill the void left by nuclear facilities.

Conditional Award Selected for Award Cycle 1

On November 21, 2022, DOE announced the conditional selection of the Diablo Canyon Power Plant, located near Avila Beach, California, to receive the first round of funding from the Civil Nuclear Credit (CNC) Program. Units 1 and 2 at the Diablo Canyon Power Plant were scheduled to be decommissioned in 2024 and 2025, but this conditional award of credits valued at up to $1.1 billion, creates a path forward for Diablo Canyon to remain open. Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), the owner of Diablo Canyon, will be required to enter into a Credit Award and Redemption Agreement (CARA) for DOE to make the final award. The CARA will govern the relationship between DOE and PG&E. Diablo Canyon produces approximately 16 TWh of electricity annually, about 15% of the state’s clean energy. The award will save 1,500 clean energy jobs.

Application Guidance for Award Cycle 2

On March 2, 2023, DOE released application guidance for award cycle 2 of the CNC Program. While award cycle 1 limited eligibility to owners or operators of nuclear power reactors that had announced intentions to retire within the four-year award period, award cycle 2 was open to owners or operators of nuclear reactors that are at risk of closure by the end of the four-year award period, including such reactors that ceased operations after November 15, 2021. Applications for award cycle 2 closed on May 31, 2023. 

Update: On March 6, 2023, the Grid Deployment Office updated the link to the application guidance to a revised version of the document.