NEI supports plan to loosen financial qualifications to get reactor license

The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) offered its support for a proposed rule change to the U.S Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) financial-qualification requirements for the licensing of nuclear reactors, the NEI said on Thursday.

The NRC's rules on financial qualification were established before the existence of deregulated nuclear markets, and the NRC has operated under the assumption that nuclear reactors belonging to electrical utilities are also financially qualified to operate. Those operating outside of electrical utilities often find additional obstacles, including the fact that many investors are not comfortable investing in a pre-licensed plant, and the plant needs financial support to be approved for the license.

The rule change being considered by the NRC would allow reactor plants to pursue licensing as long as they can demonstrate that they appear to be financially qualified. A facility would do this by providing construction and other financial-liability estimates and a capacity plan that includes where funding would come from, or it can also allow a license to be issued on a conditional basis, with financial qualifications addressed and met within a certain agreed-upon time frame.

The NRC agreed with the NEI in its assessment that the safe construction and operation of a nuclear generation facility is not solely dependent on the facility's available finances prior to licensing.

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Nuclear Energy Institute

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