Electricity companies including Duke Energy see small nuclear plants as a carbon-free alternative to fossil-powered plants. This NuScale design has won approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Credit: NuScale

Lawmakers in Raleigh are considering a bill that could make it easier to permit new nuclear plants and extend deadlines for Duke Energy to clean up coal ash dumps at its North Carolina plants.

Senate Bill 678 was introduced by Sen. Paul Newton, a Cabarrus County Republican and former Duke Energy executive. It would replace the term “renewable energy” in state statutes with “clean energy.”

The bill also explicitly adds nuclear energy to the list of clean energy options as regulators decide what new electrical plants to approve.

Duke Energy supports the bill and has proposed replacing some North Carolina coal plants with a new generation of small nuclear reactors. Duke is also adding solar, wind and hydroelectric capacity as it tries to reduce fossil fuel use to meet the state’s climate goals.

“We support modifying legislation to reflect nuclear’s critical importance […]

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