WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.) have introduced The Nuclear Power 2021 Act (S. 2812), legislation directing the Department of Energy to offer a public-private partnership to develop innovative, small reactors. The legislation aims to develop a standard design for two modular reactors, obtain a design certification from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for each design by 2018, and obtain a combined construction and operating license for these reactors by 2021. Following is a statement from Alex Flint, the Nuclear Energy Institute’s senior vice president of governmental affairs:
“The nuclear industry welcomes this latest showing of bipartisan support for a coherent energy policy that recognizes the value of nuclear energy today and the important role the federal government can play as a partner in bringing innovative nuclear energy technologies to commercial deployment. The industry applauds Chairman Bingaman and Senators Murkowski and Udall for their leadership and vision in introducing this important legislation.
“There are many positive implications associated with the prospect of smaller reactor designs that can be installed, incrementally, in less-populated areas of the country that don’t need large power stations, or in developing countries that don’t have the transmission grid capacity for large generation facilities. These small reactors can work in conjunction with large nuclear plants and renewable technologies to provide clean-air energy while simultaneously spurring economic development and raising the standard of living in developing parts of the world.
“Throughout its history, the U.S. government has successfully worked with the private sector to develop new technologies that have been in the public interest. The Nuclear Power 2021 Act can be a worthy successor to the public-private partnerships that developed the transcontinental railroad in the 19th century and the advances in technology and medicine that were the outgrowth of the space program of the 1960s. Working together, they can move the United States and the world forward with plentiful supplies of reliable, clean electricity to meet demand, boost economic growth and reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases.”