Press Release
Nuclear Innovation Alliance Fee Reform
May 2021

 

The New Recommendations from the Nuclear Innovation Alliance Highlight Actions Congress and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Should Take to Ensure Advanced Nuclear Technologies are Developed and Deployed Quickly

WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 19th, 2021) – Today the Nuclear Innovation Alliance (NIA) released a new report, “Unlocking Advanced Nuclear Innovation: The Role of Fee Reform and Public Investment.” Timely development of advanced nuclear energy is essential for meeting mid-century climate targets. The new NIA report concludes that more public investment combined with reform of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) user fee model for new license applicants will unlock nuclear innovation and support U.S. leadership in advanced nuclear energy. Currently, NRC charges high hourly fees to license applicants with innovative technologies and its resources are tied to how these fees are levied. The report analyzes this model and finds that reforming it while increasing public investment is necessary to catalyze private-sector innovation by reducing regulatory costs while also promoting the efficiency of NRC reviews.

“Advanced nuclear energy is essential to meet mid-century emission reductions goals,” explained NIA Executive Director Judi Greenwald. “A new generation of nuclear innovators is emerging, with designs and business models very different from the past. This is an important moment to reconsider how we fund licensing new nuclear power technologies, especially in light of the imperatives of climate mitigation. Changing the fee model to reduce or eliminate fees will speed up the rate of private sector innovation. It will also promote expeditious reviews at the NRC by ensuring the agency can get the right resources to the right projects at the right time. Public investment in our licensing infrastructure is important to building the foundation for rapid decarbonization.”

The report was publicly released today along with a webinar moderated by former NRC Commissioner Stephen Burns, Senior Fellow at Third Way; Caroline Cochran, Co-founder of Oklo; and Peter Hastings, Vice President of Regulatory Affairs and Quality at Kairos Power. 

In commenting on the report, former Commissioner Burns said “NIA 's study raises important questions about the current fee structure and how it may unintentionally stifle technological development. In an era when we are seeing substantial innovation in nuclear technology, fee reform can foster NRC's capacity to fulfill its regulatory mission in an agile and responsive way.”

Additionally, a joint op-ed in support of the report’s recommendations coauthored by Judi Greenwald, former Commissioner Burns, and former Commissioner Jeffrey Merrifield (now of Pillsbury) was published in Morning Consult this morning. The op-ed can be found here: https://morningconsult.com/opinions/fee-reform-and-public-investment-to-unlock-advanced-nuclear-energy-innovation/

To download a copy of the report, visit https://nuclearinnovationalliance.org/fee-reform-nuclear-innovation.

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About NIA

The Nuclear Innovation Alliance (NIA) is a non-profit think-and-do-tank working to enable nuclear power as a global solution to mitigate climate change. Through policy analysis, research, and education, we are catalyzing the next era of nuclear energy. Our organization is funded primarily through charitable grants and philanthropic donations from climate-concerned individuals and organizations.