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Up & Atom

On January 31, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) published a proposed rule to revise the professional hourly rate and flat licensing fees charged to licensees and applicants under 10 CFR Parts 170 and 171. Congress requires the NRC to recover 90% of its operating budget from fees, but certain new activities this year are excluded from that fee recovery requirement. For example, fees for advanced reactors will be carved out from the 90% fee recovery. Despite the carve-outs, NRC fees for each operating reactor will increase by approximately $330,000 (or 7.3%) from FY 2018.

These proposed amendments implement the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990, which requires the NRC to recover approximately 90% of its annual budget through fees paid by licensees and applicants. But the amendments also implement the Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act of 2019, signed into law on September 21, 2018. That act appropriated approximately $911 million to the NRC, a decrease of approximately $11 million from FY 2018. Based on that total budget authority, the NRC is proposing to collect $781.9 million in fees in FY 2019; all fees must be collected by September 30, 2019.

Under the proposed rule, the hourly rate for NRC staff would increase slightly to $278, up from $275 for FY 2018. Amounts appropriated for the development of regulatory infrastructure for advanced reactor technologies, international activities, waste incidental to reprocessing, homeland security activities, and inspector general services for the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board would be excluded from the 90%. Despite these carve-outs, NRC fees for each operating reactor will increase by approximately $330,000. This increase is caused by a number of factors, including the closure of Oyster Creek, resulting in one fewer operating reactors in the United States; the planned shutdowns of Pilgrim and Three Mile Island during FY 2019; and the completion of the APR1400 design certification for Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Co. Ltd.

The notice and comment period will end on March 4. We will continue to track the rulemaking.