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The American Power Act

As mentioned last night in our Twitter feed, the Washington Post has obtained a 21-page draft summary of The American Power Act; the energy and climate bill sponsored by Sen. John Kerry [D-MA] and Sen. Joe Lieberman [I-CT]. The nearly 1,000 page bill contains 12 titles and will be unveiled at a 1:30 pm ET press conference today.

This being Nuclear Notes, our attention is focused on the nuclear provisions and title, which are transcribed below:

Details on Key Provisions

Increasing Nuclear Power Generation
  • We have included a broad package of financial incentives to increase nuclear power generation including regulatory risk insurance for 12 projects, accelerated depreciation for nuclear plants, a new investment tax credit to promote the construction of new generating facilities, $5.4 billion in loan guarantees and a manufacturing tax credit to spur the domestic production of nuclear parts.
  • We improve the efficiency of the licensing process.
  • We invest in the research and development of small, modular reactors and enhanced proliferation controls.
  • We designate an existing national laboratory as a nuclear waste reprocessing Center of Excellence.

Title I -Domestic Clean Energy Development

Subtitle A - Nuclear Power

Section 1001. Statement of policy

Part I - Encouraging Domestic Nuclear Power Generation

Section 1101. Improvements Regarding Efficiency of Regulatory Process: Provides for an expedited procedure for issuing combined construction and operating licenses for qualified new nuclear reactors. No later than 90 days after enactment of the Act, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission shall submit a report to Congress that contains recommendations regarding the development and implementation of procedures that would enable the Commission to expedite the licensing process in a way that is guided by sound science and engineering while remaining fully mindful of environmental and safety concerns. No later than one year after the date of enactment, the Commission will submit to Congress a report on an approach to develop technology-neutral guidelines for nuclear plan licensing in the future.

Section 1102. Title 17 Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee Program: Increases the funding for the Innovative Tecchnology Loan Guarantee Program to $54 billion and establishes a loan guarantee retention fee to ensure that money is returned to the program as expeditiously as practicable.

Section 1103. Standby Support for Certain Nuclear Plant Delays: Amends the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to provide regulatory risk insurance for up to 12 reactors, rather than the current 6 reactors. Directs the Secretary to pay the full amount of covered delay costs for each reactor up to $500,000,000.

Section 1104. Spent Fuel Recycling Research and Development Center of Excellence: No later than a year after the date of enactment, the Secretary of Energy shall designate a National Laboratory as a spent fuel recycling research and development center of excellence to serve as the lead site for continuing research and development of advanced nuclear fuel cycles and separation technologies.

Section 1105. Permits and Licenses; Hearings and Judicial Review; Adjudicatory Hearing: Amends the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 to remove requirement for an administrative hearing on non-contested issues prior to granting construction permits and operating licenses for nuclear facilities. This change has no bearing on public hearings on contested issues, which are not impacted by the change.

Section 1106. Continuation of Service: Extends time members can serve on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to provide continuity in the event of delayed confirmation procedures.

Section 1107. Nuclear Energy Research Initiative: Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment, the Secretary of Energy shall develop and publish on the website of the Department of Energy a schedule that contains an outline of a 5-year strategy to effectively lower the costs of nuclear reactor systems including small-scale and modular reactors, licensing issues and advanced proliferation controls.

Section 1108. Inspections, tests, analyses and acceptance criteria:  Amends Section 185 b. of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 to ensure that prescribed inspections, tests and analyses have been met following the issuance of the combined license.

Section 1109. Environmental reviews for nuclear energy projects: Amends Section 185 b. of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 to allow for the supplementation of the environmental impact statement completed in advance of the issuance of an early site permit for subsequent phases of the licensing process for the same facility, such as the issuance of the combined operating license.

Part II - Extension of Duty Suspension for Certain Nuclear Parts

Section 1111. Suspension of Duty on Certain Components Used in Nuclear Facilities:  Suspends for an additional ten years the duty on certain components used in nuclear facilities that are not available in the United States.

Part III - Tax Provisions

Section 1121. 5-year Accelerated Depreciation Period for New Nuclear Power Plants: Reduces that accelerated depreciation period to five years.

Section 1122. Investment Tax Credit for Nuclear Power Facilities: Provides a ten percent credit for certain expenditures for the construction of nuclear power facility construction.

Section 1123. Inclusion of Nuclear Power Facilities in Qualifying Advanced Energy Project Credit: Expands the advanced energy project credit to include nuclear power facilities.

Section 1124. Modification of Credit for Production from Advanced Nuclear Power Facilities: Modifies the credit to allow allocation of credit to private partnerships with public power.

Section 1125. Treatment of Qualified Public Entities with Respect to Private Activity Bonds: Allows tax-exempt bonds to be used for public-private partnerships for advanced nuclear power facilities.

Section 1126. Grants for Qualified Nuclear Power Facility Expenditures in Lieu of Tax Credits: Provides grants for qualified nuclear power facility expenditures in lieu of tax credits. The amount of the grant will be equal to 10 percent of the qualified expenditures. Public power providers or a cooperative electric company are eligible for the grants.

Click here to view the Washington Post's complete 21-page draft of the American Power Act. [pdf]


Sterling Archer said…
Section 1107. Nuclear Energy Research Initiative: Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment, the Secretary of Energy shall develop and publish on the website....

I appreciate what they're trying to do, but how is making a webpage "research"? Research involves spending money, not publishing webpages.
Pete said…
Other than the Spent Fuel Recycling Research and Development Center of Excellence (that's a mouthful... and did they really need to add "of Excellence" to the name??), there's no mention of what to do with the additional nuclear waste that will be generated by all these new nuclear power plants.

Also... any guesses which national lab will be selected as the lead site for this nuclear R&D center?
Luke said…
Pete: Well, which lab has the most experience with fuel recycling at present? Probably Argonne or Idaho.
Jack Gamble said…

My money is on Savannah River. There is already a MOX fuel facility under construction there to convert weapons grade Plutonium into fuel. It could easily be expanded to included a reprocessing facility.

The nice thing I'm seeing here is the clause that calls for a single environmental impact review at the early phases. This means that all sites that already have early site prep - STP, Vogtle - have just had a massive regulatory hurdles removed.

Let's hope we can get both parties behind this bill. It has something for everyone, so 60 Senate votes should be within reach!
Joseph Somsel said…
Fine proposals for nuclear power but enacting "cap and trade" or a large carbon tax will so harm the US economy that electricity demand growth will stall. Why then build new nuclear plants if not to replace perfectly good coal plants?

NEI's support of the global warming agenda is far too narrow a special interest. I'd support making this title a separate bill but it is obviously combined here as a bargaining tool. Lay down with dogs, etc.

If it can't be separated, then the overall bill should be opposed by NEI.
Joffan said…
Sterling, the full Act allocates $50m a year for 5 years to the research indicated under section 1107. Putting a time limit on publishing the research schedule is (I think) just a way of making sure it gets started. It is an odd way to summarize it though.
Power Act Supporter said…
Joseph Somsel is against placing a price on carbon. I disagree, because I believe that the evidence is strong that carbon dioxide emissions are causing destabilization of the climate. But beyond this point, the reason that utilities now broadly support cap and trade is that they need certainty in order to be able to make new investments in energy infrastructure. Cap and trade will come eventually, and until it does, we will be stuck with more natural gas plants as a stop-gap. I hope that Congress passes this bill and we can move on and start making serious investments into new energy infrastructure.
Sterling Archer said…
Thanks for the follow up, Joffan.
Anonymous said…
My money is on Argonne or Idaho Labs.

I don´t see any reason to think that the Senate will require 60 votes.

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