The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is seeking public comment on a proposed rule that would amend the licensing, inspection, special projects, and annual fees charged to the agency’s applicants and licensees for fiscal year 2021.
Published in the February 22 Federal Register, the proposed fee rule reflects a total NRC budget authority of $844.4 million, a drop of $11.2 million from FY 2020.
The amendments are mandated by the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act (NEIMA), the nuclear industry–backed legislation signed into law by President Trump in January 2019 (NN, Feb. 2019, p. 17). NEIMA requires the NRC to recover approximately 100 percent of its total budget authority in FY 2021, except for specific excluded activities. (Previously, the requirement was approximately 90 percent.) In addition, NEIMA established a new cap for annual fees for operating reactors and included requirements to improve the accuracy of invoice for service fees.
Specifics: After accounting for the exclusions from the fee-recovery requirement and net billing adjustments, the NRC must recover approximately $708.8 million in fees in FY 2021, according to a February 22 agency press release. Of this amount, about $185.9 million will be recovered under 10 CFR Part 170 fees for service and $522.9 million through Part 171 annual fees.
Compared with FY 2020, proposed annual fees are decreasing for fuel fabrication facilities, non-power production or utilization facilities, most materials user fee categories, uranium recovery, the Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act program, and DOE transportation activities. Fees are increasing, however, for spent fuel storage/reactor decommissioning activities, operating power reactors, and some materials user fee categories. While the proposed annual fee for operating power reactors is going up in FY 2021, it does not exceed the NEIMA cap, the NRC said.
The proposed rule also includes several other changes affecting licensees and applicants. For instance, the NRC has increased its hourly rate from $279 to $288 for FY 2021 and adjusted license application fees accordingly.
Don’t dawdle: Comments should be submitted by March 24. According to the FR notice, “Because NEIMA requires the NRC to collect fees for FY 2021 by September 30, 2021, the NRC must finalize any revisions to its fee schedules promptly, and thus is unable to grant any extension request of the comment period.” Methods for submitting comments can be found at the link above.