WASHINGTON—The Department of Energy (DOE) today released a fiscal year 2006 budget request that seeks a 13 percent increase in funding for the agency’s Nuclear Power 2010 initiative to enhance U.S. energy diversity and security through new nuclear power plant construction. The budget request for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1 seeks $56 million, up from $49.6 million in the current year, for Nuclear Power 2010.
The program is a cost-sharing, industry-government partnership designed to reduce the technical, regulatory and institutional uncertainties associated with deployment of new nuclear power plants. Under this program, DOE announced awards last fall to two utility-led consortia that want to demonstrate the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) new processes for obtaining combined construction and operating licenses for new nuclear plants.
“We are very pleased that the Department of Energy is seeking a significant increase in Nuclear Power 2010 funding,” said John Kane, the Nuclear Energy Institute’s senior vice president of governmental affairs. “This reflects the Bush administration’s strong commitment to have advanced nuclear power plants be a key element of the nation’s energy future.”
Just last week, President Bush cited the need for increased reliance on emission-free nuclear energy in his State of the Union address to Congress.
DOE’s FY06 budget also requests $651.4 million for the government’s nuclear waste management program. This is an increase of nearly 13 percent from the $577 million appropriated for the current year. Of the $651.4 million, $300 million would come from the civilian Nuclear Waste Fund that is financed by electricity customers who use nuclear power, and the remainder would come from Defense Department accounts to support disposal of high-level radioactive waste from U.S. defense programs.
DOE budget documents advocate a funding reform that would ensure that fees paid into the Nuclear Waste Fund for the planned Yucca Mountain, Nev., used fuel repository are applied for their intended purposes rather than diverted for other general budget purposes.
Kane expressed support for this concept and for the higher funding level for the Yucca Mountain program.
“The government’s used nuclear fuel management program is a top environmental priority. It is critical that Congress provide the funding necessary in the years ahead for the Department of Energy to meet important program milestones,” he said.
DOE plans to submit a license application to the NRC for the state-of-the-art disposal facility envisioned for the Nevada desert later this year.
The overall budget request for DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy, including funding for Nuclear Power 2010, is $510.8 million. Other programs included are:
a $20 million request (up 124 percent from the current year) for a nuclear hydrogen initiative to demonstrate nuclear-based hydrogen production;
a $24 million request (up one percent) for university research and training reactor programs; and
a $70 million request (up four percent) “to develop a better, more efficient and proliferation-resistant nuclear fuel cycle.”
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.