Geek: Senators Reintroduce Bill to Advance Nuclear Technology
A group of 15 senators last week reintroduced bipartisan legislation to boost nuclear energy innovation. The Nuclear Energy Leadership Act (NELA) aims to reestablish U.S. leadership in the field, while ensuring advanced reactors can provide clean, safe, affordable, reliable power to meet national and global needs.
“As we seek to maintain electric reliability, keep energy prices affordable, and address climate change, nuclear power stands out as one of our very best options,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), said in a statement.
Nuclear energy has been struggling since the 2011 Fukushima disaster and 2017 bankruptcy of reactor maker Westinghouse. But many believe—and a recent MIT study proved—that nuclear power go a long way toward a carbon-neutral future.
“New nuclear technologies offer the potential to phase out polluting forms of energy like coal and natural gas,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said. “That would mean a big boost for our energy industry, and a drop in the carbon pollution driving climate change.”
“Nuclear power produces 60 percent of all carbon-free electricity in the United States,” according to Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.).
“Within the next five years,” he continued, “we need to build one or more advanced reactors to demonstrate the capabilities they may bring—lower cost, increased safety, and less nuclear waste—and this legislation will help do that.”
The bill, originally introduced in September, was sponsored by a bipartisan group of senators, including Democrats from Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, New Jersey, and Rhode Island as well as Republicans from Alaska, Idaho, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia. NELA authorizes the federal government to enter into 40-year power purchase agreements (PPAs) with nuclear power companies, which provides more stability and security than the previously authorized 10-year contracts.
“This legislation will empower our national labs and industry partners to work together and continue exploring nuclear’s full potential,” Sen. James Rish (R-Idaho), said.
It will bring together private and public sector innovators to develop next-gen advanced reactor concepts.
“This bill is one step we can take toward ensuring our national security and addressing climate change,” Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) added, urging U.S. investors to look no further than our own 50 states to invest in advanced nuclear technologies.
By: Stephanie Mlot