Introduced:

S.4897

  • 11/16/2020

Sponsors:

  • Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY)
  • Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
  • Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID)
  • Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ)

WHAT IT DOES

The American Nuclear Infrastructure Act is a broad bill to establish multiple programs that support both currently operating nuclear reactors as well as the next generation of reactor technologies. These include a targeted credit program to prevent the premature shutdown of the existing fleet, prizes to the first approved licenses for multiple advanced reactor designs, continued regulatory modernization, and broader international development and investments.

WHY WE LIKE IT

Congress has boldly committed to new demonstration programs, new testing facilities, and regulatory modernization to enable the next generation of nuclear energy. However, our existing nuclear fleet is the foundation of our nation’s low carbon electricity. While the industry has focused on decreasing costs, about eight gigawatts of carbon free nuclear generating capacity have closed since 2013 and an additional eight gigawatts of electricity are slated to close by 2024. Existing plants are innovating to transition with our changing grid. Supporting these plants through the transition will allow our nation to keep gigawatts of clean energy on the grid to prevent rising emissions.

For new designs, there is still much more to be done to address first of a kind deployment risk, and other barriers to deploy new technologies. Prizes to incentive competition, but also de-risk first of a kind uses, helps deploy the next generation of technologies. Directing the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to continue to modernize aspects of its review process also provides additional deployment certainly and will help enable nuclear energy to deploy at a rapid enough scale to support decarbonization. In addition, having the NRC preemptively review Department of Energy sites for demonstration reactors can help companies partner with the National Labs to test out innovative concepts.

Finally, unlocking international markets and investments will be important for the broad deployment of new nuclear technologies.

SPECIFICS

  • Authorizes prizes for first mover reactor companies in order to de-risk first of a kind licensing and construction uncertainty
  • Directs the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to better coordinate its international work, including assisting allied countries and developing international technical standards
  • Continues to modernize environmental and new license application reviews, including the use of innovative manufacturing and construction techniques
  • Directs the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to consider any barriers to license reactors for nonelectric applications, which is necessary for nuclear to help decarbonize more than just the electricity sector
  • Allows the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to preemptively review Department of Energy sites to accelerate the demonstration of new designs
  • Creates a credit program to support the existing fleet
  • Allows allied countries to invest in U.S. companies, which can strengthen international relationships and open up international markets
  • Enables additional cooperation between the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Department of Energy so the NRC can license the next generation of fuels

 

View the full text of S. 4897