NEI: Bill would help fuel 'new generation of reactor technologies'

As Washington ponders a bill that would increase funding and research for nuclear energy, a Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) spokesman explained the potential impact of the legislation and the importance of creating a "new generation of reactor technologies."

In a bipartisan effort, the House Science, Space and Technology Committee green-lighted H.R. 4084 at the beginning of the year to enable the Department of Energy to dedicate much-needed resources to nuclear energy. The full House passed the bill in February, and a companion bill, S.B. 2641, is now under consideration with the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

The Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act would allow private firms to work with government labs to explore nuclear-reactor technologies and use the labs' supercomputers for further study in nuclear energy.

NEI Senior Media Relations Manager Mitch Singer explained to Power News Wire how this partnership impacts the private sector.

"Public-private partnerships on new technologies and ventures that benefit the nation as a whole have been quite beneficial in the past," Singer said. "The impact on the private sector is that it encourages them to make their fair share of the investment as the risk is spread across many companies and the public investment. Examples from our history include the canal systems and transcontinental railroad in the 19th century, and the Interstate highway system and space program in the 20th century."

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, Americans will need 22 percent more electricity by 2040. To meet that demand, the NEI said bills such as this one would ensure that the necessary funding is available to build facilities that will generate the required power.

"Nuclear energy plays a vital role in meeting our nation’s electricity needs, protecting the environment, and preserving the fuel and technology diversity that is the strength of the U.S. electricity supply system," NEI Senior Vice President of Governmental Affairs Alex Flint said in a previous statement. "Increased funding will accelerate the commercial use of new-reactor technologies that can help secure a clean energy future for our nation."

The NEI said this legislation is also a step forward in securing America's future in clean technologies.

"In general, advanced nuclear technology, which is safe, reliable and emission-free, will play a critical role in helping the United States and the rest of the world meet the challenging goals which have been set," Singer said. 

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