Tuesday, January 31, 2006

2005 Energy Policy Act + President Bush's 2006 SOTU Address

2005 Energy Policy Act

Signed by President Bush on August 8, 2005, the Energy Policy Act contained widespread initiatives designed to guide America to the path for energy self-sustainability. Included in this 1700-page bill were several sections of nuclear energy. Chief proposals passing the senate pertaining to nuclear power include:

(1) Reauthorization of the Price Anderson Act: limits the liability of nuclear plant owners to $10.9 billion in case of an accident.

(2) Loan Guarantees for Nuclear Power: guarantees that exceed more than $2 billion dollars could be awarded to at least one nuclear facility from 2011- 2015. The loans could carry a significant subsidy of as much as 30 percent for each newly built nuclear reactor under the Nuclear Power 2010 program.

(3) Multiple Programs to Fund New Nuclear Reactors: funding initiatives in which the aim of the majority of these programs is to develop new nuclear reactors in the United States

$56 million in FY 2006 for the Nuclear Power 2010 program;
$45 million for the Generation IV Nuclear Energy Systems Initiative;
$24 million for the University Reactors Infrastructure and Education Assistance;
$70 million for the Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative

(4) Nuclear Based Hydrogen Funding: $540 million for the Advanced Nuclear Reactor Hydrogen Cogeneration Project to build new nuclear reactors specifically to produce hydrogen. For fiscal years 2006-2015 $1.25 billion was allocated to the Next Generation Nuclear Plant Project for development of nuclear electricity and hydrogen development.

2006 State of the Union Address

President Bush, under fire politically and hindered by poor poll results, gives the 2006 State of the Union Address, upon which he has this to say about nuclear power as playing a role in reducing America's addiction to oil:

"The best way to break this addiction is through technology. Since 2001, we have spent nearly $10 billion to develop cleaner, cheaper, more reliable alternative energy sources, and we are on the threshold of incredible advances. So tonight, I announce the Advanced Energy Initiative, a 22 percent increase in clean-energy research at the Department of Energy, to push for breakthroughs in two vital areas. To change how we power our homes and offices, we will invest more in zero-emission coal-fired plants, revolutionary solar and wind technologies, and clean, safe nuclear energy."

Analysis: Not too many specifics yet, but when I browse the Department of Energy's (DOE) website and look at its nuclear division, aka Office of Nuclear Energy, Science and Technology, I noticed that some of key US utilities companies with interests in nuclear power have left public comments. They include:

Southern Corporation (SO)
Exelon Generation (EXC)
Progress Energy (PGN)
Constellation Energy Group (CEG)

Example: Southern Company (SO) wrote to the Office of Nuclear Energy in regards to the Energy Policy Act:

"Southern's comments are directed toward the provisions of section 638 that it views as most important to the fulfillment of the clear intent of Congress to encourage new investment in nuclear power plants. In order to accomplish this goal.."

Now I usually write about the production side of nuclear power, namely uranium and the companies that mine it. But it never hurts to have a general understanding of how policy affects the demand side of nuclear power. The United States seem to firmly on the course towards increasing their reliance on nuclear power, but words and action are two different things, and with its current political instability, it would be best to monitor the situation at present



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8:27 PM  

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