PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — On Friday, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a $6 billion Civil Nuclear Credit Program to support the country’s U.S. nuclear reactors.

As the U.S. nation’s largest source of clean power, the DOE’s Notice of Intent (NOI) and Request for Information (RFI) are the first steps to avoid shutting down nuclear reactors prematurely. The goal is to preserve thousands of good-paying clean energy jobs while avoiding carbon emissions.

“U.S. nuclear power plants are essential to achieving President Biden’s climate goals and DOE is committed to keeping carbon-free electricity flowing and preventing premature closures,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law makes this all possible by allowing us to leverage our existing clean energy infrastructure, strengthen our energy security and protect U.S. jobs. DOE is facilitating the development of next generation technologies that can ultimately lower emissions and bolster the clean energy workforce.”

According to the DOE, nuclear power currently provides 52 percent of the nation’s carbon-free electricity. There are currently four reactors/plants across Virginia that contribute nuclear power.

Those can be found in North Anna, Richmond, Surry and Newport News.

The new Bipartisan Infrastructure Law created the Civil Nuclear Credit Program (CNC), allowing owners or operators of commercial U.S. reactors to apply for certification and competitively bid on credits to help support their work.

DOE’s new RFI seeks input on the structure and execution of the CNC Program, including the certification process and eligibility criteria, invitations to submit bids for credits, and the allocation of credits.