WASHINGTON—Conferees for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives today reported a compromise version of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (H.R. 6) out of conference. The legislation now advances to both chambers for a final vote and, if approved, Congress will forward the measure to President Bush for his signature and enactment. Following is a statement from Skip Bowman, the Nuclear Energy Institute’s president and chief executive officer.
“The nuclear energy industry commends the House and Senate energy bill conferees on a superb job of crafting legislation that will strengthen our nation’s energy and national security. It has been 13 years since the federal government last enacted major energy policy legislation, and new policies to meet new challenges to the world’s energy, environmental and homeland security circumstances are urgently needed.
“The nuclear energy industry is heartened especially to see approval by the conferees of legislation that recognizes nuclear energy’s vital role in our nation’s diverse portfolio of energy sources. The conferees rightly have recognized that nuclear energy plays an essential role in helping our nation achieve its economic, security and environmental goals.
“Energy security and national security are inextricably intertwined, and our nation must increase its reliance on nuclear energy to meet the soaring demand for power with reliable, affordable and clean energy sources. We want to applaud the leadership exhibited in the conference by Senators Pete Domenici and Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, and by Congressmen Joe Barton of Texas and John Dingell of Michigan. They have shown that, by working together on a bipartisan basis, Congress can accomplish great things for the betterment of our nation.
“The nuclear energy industry urges the full Senate and House to support this legislation and advance it expeditiously to President Bush’s desk for his signature.”
Nuclear energy-related provisions in H.R. 6 include:
A new power plant investment incentive in the form of “standby support” to offset the financial impact of delays beyond industry’s control that might occur during construction and at the start of operations of up to six new nuclear power plants. This counterweight to the risk of potential delays would cover 100 percent of the cost of delay for the first two new plants, up to $500 million each, and 50 percent of the delay costs up to $250 million each for plants three through six.
A technology-neutral new plant investment incentive that empowers the Secretary of Energy to provide loan guarantees for up to 80 percent of the cost of “innovative technologies” that “avoid, reduce or sequester air pollutants or anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases.” This would include new advanced-design nuclear power plants, as well as clean coal and renewables.
Reauthorization of the Price-Anderson Act, the framework for industry self-funded liability insurance, for 20 years.
Authorization of $1.25 billion to fund a prototype Next Generation Nuclear Plant project that would produce both electricity and hydrogen.
Authorization of funding for research and development aimed at developing advanced nuclear power plants, more proliferation-resistant nuclear fuel and improved methods for managing used nuclear fuel.
Additional nuclear power plant security requirements to buttress the myriad measures that the industry has taken since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. This is in addition to the expenditure of more than $1.2 billion of industry monies on security-specific capital improvements and a 60 percent increase, to 8,000 from 5,000, in paramilitary security forces. The bill’s provisions increase reliability of personal identification systems and allow plant security forces to use more advanced weaponry.
Updated tax treatment of decommissioning funds to allow regulated and merchant companies to treat their contributions to the funds similarly, and allow pre-1984 contributions to funds to be moved to “qualified,” deductible status over the remaining life of the power plant.
Establishment of an assistant secretary position to head the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy.
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.