WASHINGTON—The following is a statement from Marvin S. Fertel, senior vice president of the Nuclear Energy Institute, regarding the Clinton Administration's proposed legislation to restructure the electric utility industry.
"The administration's proposed legislation is a good first step in many respects toward ensuring that there are no impediments to fair competition for nuclear power plants, but there is ample opportunity to improve this legislation.
"The bill must include essential provisions that ensure that nuclear power plants are not placed at a competitive disadvantage during a transition to competition and to provide plant owners with the best possible flexibility to reposition their assets. Importantly, the administration proposes to amend the Atomic Energy Act and the tax code to meet these goals. However, more comprehensive changes to both laws are required to provide a level playing field for the nation's 103 nuclear power reactors.
"Although the bill would remove the requirement in the Atomic Energy Act that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission conduct antitrust reviews in license transfer proceedings, it needs to address other important changes to the law. These include removing the prohibition on foreign ownership of commercial nuclear power plants, clarifying NRC authority to determine what type of review is required for license transfer proceedings, and creating a mechanism to ensure NRC authority over former licensees with plant decommissioning obligations."
Fertel said amendments to the tax code must be added to the legislation to ensure that nuclear plant ownership transfers do not create adverse tax consequences or unnecessarily increase decommissioning costs. "The ownership transfer of Three Mile Island Unit 1 from GPU Nuclear to AmerGen and of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant from Boston Edison to Entergy Corp., underscores the importance of allowing tax-free transfers of decommissioning trusts.
"The legislation also must secure financial obligations from electricity consumers-such as payments into the federal Nuclear Waste Fund, unfunded decommissioning obligations and fees for decommissioning and decontamination of uranium enrichment plants-via a 'wires' charge.
"Since the Clean Air Act was implemented in the early 1970s, overall generation from emission-free electricity sources has nearly doubled to 31 percent, and nuclear energy has surpassed hydroelectric power as the primary source of electricity that protects our air quality. Today, nuclear energy provides about two-thirds of our emission-free electricity. Just as the administration is proposing a renewable energy portfolio standard and credit trading system, it must also recognize the important clean air benefits of nuclear power and economically recognize nuclear contributions to Clean Air Act compliance."
The Nuclear Energy Institute is the nuclear energy industry’s policy organization. This news release and additional information about nuclear energy are available on NEI’s Internet site at http://www.nei.org.