Gonzalez Introduces Bill to Spur Nuclear Energy Innovation
Washington, D.C., December 8, 2021
Today, U.S. Representatives Anthony Gonzalez (OH-16) and Elaine Luria (VA-02) introduced the Accelerating Nuclear Innovation through Fee Reform Act, legislation designed to accelerate innovation and catalyze private sector investment in advanced nuclear reactor technologies by eliminating Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) review fees for advanced reactor license applications. Currently, advanced nuclear companies face onerous application costs that can reach tens of millions of dollars and disincentivize them from bringing their novel technologies to market.
“If the U.S. wants to be a climate leader while remaining energy independent, nuclear energy has to play a pivotal role in our nation’s energy mix,” Gonzalez said. “Unfortunately, the current NRC fee model limits innovation by constraining the agency’s resources and discouraging nuclear innovators early in the project lifecycle. By eliminating application fees for advanced fission and fusion reactors, we can yield enormous innovation benefits that create jobs, improve our nation’s security, and generate more emissions-free energy.”
“Advanced nuclear is one of the most significant contributors to America’s clean energy future,” Rep. Luria said. “We need to cut costs and red tape so that this technology can thrive. The Accelerating Innovation through Fee Reform Act will help jumpstart the advanced nuclear technology industry and promote clean energy growth in communities across the country.”
"This legislation is an important step forward for American energy policy as it signals continuing bipartisan support for advanced nuclear energy innovation to help meet our nation’s clean energy goals. The current NRC fee model discourages innovation by advanced reactor developers by charging high fees for licensing reviews of new designs. This bill reforms the NRC fee recovery model by eliminating license review fees for new advanced nuclear reactors. Advanced nuclear energy can make a significant and timely contribution to climate protection and this legislation recognizes the benefits of advanced reactor development and deployment as a public good. We applaud the congressional sponsors for their leadership.” - Judi Greenwald Executive Director Nuclear Innovation Alliance
"Revising the NRC's fee structure will help enable the deployment of next generation nuclear energy reactors by improving the regulatory process and eliminating unnecessary barriers," said Rich Powell, Executive Director of ClearPath Action. "The Accelerating Nuclear Innovation through Fee Reform Act, led by Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH) and Rep. Luria (D-VA), will not only help alleviate the regulatory burdens for advanced reactor developers, but it will also accelerate their deployment – a true win-win."
“The bill helps foster technological innovation as new advanced reactor designs come forward for regulatory approval. It also helps the NRC innovate and adapt its licensing process without undue focus on the fee system as the NRC reviews these new designs and works toward establishing a technology-neutral framework as required by NEIMA." - Stephen G. Burns Senior Visiting Fellow, Third Way, Former Chairman and Commissioner, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Under the NRC’s existing regulatory framework, the agency charges hourly fees to license applicants trying to build new advanced nuclear reactors that are safer, more economic, and quicker to deploy. Unfortunately, this framework is largely predicated on conventional reactors instead of advanced reactors, which causes initial advanced reactor reviews to take longer and cost more. This puts innovators at a serious disadvantage because most startups are very early in their project lifecycles with little to no revenue. By eliminating licensing fees for new reactors, Congress can further incentivize the development and deployment of nuclear innovation that reduces emissions, grows the economy, and improves overall nuclear safety.
Read the bill here.