March 28, 2019

Manchin, Capito And 13 Senate Colleagues Reintroduce Legislation To Boost Nuclear Energy Innovation

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) reintroduced bipartisan legislation to boost nuclear energy innovation and ensure advanced reactors that can provide clean, safe, affordable and reliable power to meet national and global energy needs. The Nuclear Energy Leadership Act (NELA), aims to reestablish U.S. leadership in nuclear energy. It will bring together private and public sector innovators to develop next-generation advanced reactor concepts. 

“We must find a balance between energy production and the environment. Each technology provides different advantages for energy production, which is why investing in new technologies is so important,” Senator Manchin said. “Our bipartisan legislation provides a pathway to enable private-public partnerships to construct advanced nuclear demonstration reactors over the next two decades, which will help ensure the reliability of our grid, while also offering commercial pathways to construct reactors that provide carbon-free energy and new means of supporting industrial processes.” 

“It’s important that we continue to position the United States as a global energy leader, and that requires us to take full advantage of our energy potential,” Senator Capito said. “Along with our nation’s coal resources, nuclear power can provide critical baseload electricity needed to power our homes and businesses. Our bipartisan legislation will help drive innovation and development when it comes to nuclear power and technology, supporting its important role in an all-of-the-above energy strategy.”

Advanced reactors are the next generation of breakthrough nuclear technologies that will offer significant advantages for power generation. Some are smaller than today’s commercial reactors and can provide increased reliability and resilience to the grid, as well as off-grid power. Others will utilize exotic fuels, materials, and coolants to decrease the cost of delivered power or provide high-temperature process heat for industrial manufacturing. 

Although the United States invented and commercialized nuclear power, our leadership has slipped, creating the need for new policies that encourage opportunities for the industry to design and deploy advanced reactor concepts. NELA will help facilitate the path to market for advanced reactors by allowing the federal government to be an early adopter of commercialized technologies; providing for needed scientific research facilities; demonstrating advanced reactor concepts; breaking down fuel availability barriers when the market cannot; and training the next generation of nuclear scientists. 

This bill contains several sections, including:

Authorization of Long-Term Power Purchase Agreements;

Long-Term Nuclear Power Purchase Agreement Pilot Program;

Advanced Nuclear Reactor Research and Development Goals;

Nuclear Energy Strategic Plan;

Versatile, Reactor-Based Fast Neutron Source;

Advanced Nuclear Fuel Security Programs; and a

University Nuclear Leadership Program. 

The bill was also reintroduced by U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Cory Booker (D-NJ), James Risch (R-ID), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Chris Coons (D-DE), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Lindsay Graham (R-SC) and Rob Portman (R-OH).  

A copy of the full text of the legislation is available here. Click here for a one-page bill summary and here to view a section-by-section.