The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has published notice in the Federal Register of a final rule amending the licensing, inspection, special projects, and annual fees to be charged to the agency’s applicants and licensees for fiscal year 2021. The rule goes into effect August 16.
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.
New numbers: The final rule reflects a total NRC budget authority of $844.4 million, a drop of $11.2 million from FY 2020. After accounting for exclusions from the fee-recovery requirement and net billing adjustments, the agency must recover approximately $708.0 million in fees in FY 2021, according to the 38-page NRC notice. Of this amount, an estimated $190.6 million will be recovered under 10 CFR Part 170 fees for service and about $517.4 million through Part 171 annual fees.
Compared with FY 2020, annual fees are decreasing for fuel fabrication facilities, non-power production or utilization facilities, uranium recovery facilities, and radiographers. Fees are increasing, however, for other byproduct material licensees, as well as for operating power reactors and spent fuel storage/reactor decommissioning activities. The power reactor fee moves up from $4,621,000 to $4,749,000.
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, a 3.2 percent increase due largely to a 2.1 percent increase in budgetary resources, which itself is primarily due to an increase in salaries and benefits to support federal pay raises for NRC employees, the notice stated.