March 2, 2022
US power companies are urging the Biden administration not to sanction uranium imports from Russia, which they see as crucial for maintaining domestic electricity prices at a manageable level, Reuters reported, citing sources in the industry.
The US National Energy Institute, a trade group of US nuclear power generation companies, including two of the largest US utilities, Duke Energy Corp and Exelon Corp, is reportedly lobbying the White House.
Uranium is essential for electricity production at nuclear power plants. It is used as a fuel inside the reactors to boil the water generating the steam that sets the turbines in motion. Nearly half of the uranium powering US nuclear plants comes from Russia and its neighbors Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
These plants, in turn, are responsible for producing roughly 20% of US electricity, data from the US Energy Information Administration and the World Nuclear Association shows. Despite having large uranium reserves in the states of Texas and Wyoming, the US does not currently produce its own uranium.
The US and its allies have imposed sanctions on Russia over the past several days, following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. The sanctions do not currently cover Russian uranium sales, however. When asked about uranium lobbying, a White House official said the US administration was “listening to all inquiries from industry, and will continue to do so as we take measures to hold Russia accountable.”
Meanwhile, Swedish power company Vattenfall AB said last week it would stop buying Russian uranium for its nuclear reactors until further notice, also due to the situation in Ukraine.