On May 15, 2015, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (“NRC”) approved a staff proposal to develop “variable” fees for small modular reactors (“SMRs”) through a subsequent rulemaking process.  The annual fees could then be modified for individual SMRs based on megawatt capacity.  Currently, annual fees are allocated equally among all operating nuclear reactors.  The annual fees are used to fund 90 percent of the NRC’s budget, as required by law.
Continue Reading NRC to Consider Variable Annual Fee for Small Nuclear Reactors

On September 30, 2014, the Department of Energy (“DOE”) released a draft solicitation that would provide up to $12.6 billion in loan guarantees for innovative nuclear energy and “front end” nuclear projects.  In its announcement, DOE stated that the loan guarantees are to assist with the financial burdens of deploying next generation technology to diversify the United States’ clean energy portfolio.
Continue Reading DOE to Offer $12.6 Billion in Loan Guarantees for Advanced Nuclear Projects

On April 7, 2014, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (“NRC”) denied a petition for rulemaking filed by the Nuclear Information and Resource Service (“NIRS”) and 37 co-petitioners asking the NRC to amend its regulations that would expand emergency planning zones (“EPZs”) and the scope of emergency drills around nuclear facilities.   The NRC concluded that the current size of the EPZs is appropriate for existing reactors and that emergency plans will provide an adequate level of protection of the public health and safety in the event of an accident at a nuclear power plant.
Continue Reading NRC Refuses to Expand Emergency Planning Zones around Nuclear Facilities

On March 18, 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denied the U.S. Department of Energy’s (“DOE”) petition for rehearing of its ruling ordering DOE to stop collecting nuclear waste disposal fees from electric utilities.  DOE argued that the D.C. Circuit should rehear the case en banc.
Continue Reading D.C. Circuit Denies En Banc Review of Nuclear Waste Fees Ruling

On February 4, 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) released an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“ANOPR”) requesting comments on its Environmental Radiation Protection Standards for Nuclear Power Operations (“Radiation Standards”).  The ANOPR seeks input on six main issues to determine how to update the Radiation Standards and what, if any changes should be made.
Continue Reading EPA Requests Comments on Radiation Protection Standards for Nuclear Power Operations

On January 11, 2013, the Department of Energy (“DOE”) released the “Strategy for the Management and Disposal of Used Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste” (“Strategy”). The Strategy builds on the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future (“BRC”) and includes plans for a pilot interim storage facility, a full-scale interim storage facility, and a geologic repository (see February 5, 2010 edition of the WER).
Continue Reading DOE Releases Strategy on Nuclear and Radioactive Waste Storage and Disposal

On June 1, 2012, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (“DC Circuit”) held in National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners v. United States Department of Energy that the Secretary of Energy (“Secretary”) failed to perform a valid evaluation of annual fees collected from generators for disposal of nuclear waste under the 1982 Nuclear Waste Policy Act (the “Act”).  The DC Circuit ordered the Secretary to conduct a re-evaluation of the annual fees within six months, but stopped short of ordering the fees suspended. 
Continue Reading Secretary of Energy Ordered to Re-Evaluate Nuclear Waste Fees

On May 8, 2012, President Obama nominated Kristine Svinicki (R) to a second five-year term on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (“NRC”).  Svinicki’s current term is set to expire on June 30, and several Republican Members of Congress are asking for a speedy confirmation.  However, this nomination may be opposed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).
Continue Reading Obama Nominates Svinicki to Second NRC Term

On October 9, 2010, Constellation Energy Group (“Constellation”) issued a press release regarding the status of their loan guarantee application in connection with their UniStar Nuclear Energy Calvert Cliffs 3 project.  Constellation stated they wrote to the Department of Energy (“DOE”) and informed DOE that Constellation would not move forward due to “unworkable” proposed terms and conditions of the loan guarantee.
Continue Reading Constellation Energy Withdraws from DOE Loan Guarantee; Senator Bingaman Calls for Reform of DOE Loan Guarantee Program