Nuclear Energy Policy [September 19, 2013]   [open pdf - 455KB]

"Nuclear energy issues facing Congress include reactor safety and regulation, radioactive waste management, research and development priorities, federal incentives for new commercial reactors, nuclear weapons proliferation, and security against terrorist attacks. […] Significant incentives for new commercial reactors were included in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT05, P.L. 109-58), such as tax credits and loan guarantees. Together with volatile fossil fuel prices and the possibility of greenhouse gas controls, the federal incentives for nuclear power helped spur renewed interest by utilities and other potential reactor developers. License applications for as many as 31 new reactors have been announced, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued licenses for four reactors at two plant sites in early 2012. However, falling natural gas prices, safety concerns raised by the Fukushima accident, and other changing circumstances have made it unlikely that many more of the proposed nuclear projects will move toward construction in the near term. Four U.S. reactors have been permanently closed in 2013, and another shutdown has been announced for 2014. Three reactors were closed because of the need for major repairs, and the other two because electricity prices fell below their generating costs. All five had substantial time remaining in their NRC licenses, leading to speculation that further early shutdowns may occur."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL33558
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