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Nuclear Power Gets Recent Push in U.S., Winning Converts

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Ms. Capito has argued that coal-fired power plants, which have been closing because the nation moves away from fossil fuel sources, could turn out to be sites for nuclear reactors. That might provide advantages for places like her home state, which has produced coal and relied on it as fuel for power generators.

“Ultimately, you get to a degree where you wish something that’s not weather dependent, something like nuclear to make the grid reliable,” said John Kotek, who ran the Office of Nuclear Energy in the course of the Obama administration and is now vp for policy on the Nuclear Energy Institute, a trade association. “There are other technologies which might be candidates to play that role, but in case you have a look at what is on the market today across the widest scale, that’s nuclear energy.”

The rising costs of other sources of power have made nuclear energy more competitive around the globe, including in america, which has the biggest fleet of nuclear plants of any country. They produce about 20 percent of the nation’s electricity and 50 percent of the clean energy.

The US maintains 92 reactors, though a dozen have closed over the past decade — including, a month ago, the Palisades Nuclear Generating Station in Michigan, about 55 miles southwest of Grand Rapids.

The owner, Entergy, decided to shut the plant after a power-purchase agreement with a utility expired. Entergy said it couldn’t find buyers for the plant, and decommissioning has gone too far to bring it back online, even with the cash from the federal government.

Diablo Canyon is next on the decommissioning list, but Gov. Gavin Newsom has proposed extending its life. The plant, on California’s central coast, supplies almost 10 percent of the state’s electricity. Pacific Gas & Electric, which owns the plant, announced in 2016 that it planned to shut it when its licenses expired, saying it will focus more on solar and wind power as renewable energy sources.

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