The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Annie Caputo will depart the agency when her term expires at the end of this month, NRC Chairman Christopher Hanson said yesterday. Her departure will leave the five-seat panel with only three commissioners—the minimum number required for it to conduct business—as former chairman Kristine Svinicki resigned in January of this year.
At this writing, Caputo has not announced her post-NRC plans.
Remaining on the commission are two Democrats, Hanson and Jeff Baran, and one Republican, David Wright. President Biden has not named a replacement for either of the vacancies and can choose only one Democrat, since no more than three commissioners can be from the same political party.
Background: The only NRC commissioner with experience working in the nuclear power industry, Caputo was confirmed by the Senate on May 24, 2018—almost one year after then-President Trump announced his intention to nominate her—and was sworn in on May 29 of that year.
Prior to her service on the commission, Caputo was a senior policy advisor to Sen. John Barrasso (R., Wyo.) on the Environment and Public Works Committee. She held the same position under Sen. Jim Inhofe (R., Okla.) from 2007 to 2012. From 2005 to 2006 and from 2012 to 2015, Caputo worked for the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, handling nuclear energy issues. Before coming to Capitol Hill, she worked for Exelon Corporation.
Noteworthy: In 2019, Caputo participated in both the 2019 ANS Annual Meeting and the Utility Working Conference. At the latter, speaking on how the NRC reviews new technologies such as small modular reactors, she acknowledged that the agency doesn’t have the best track record, noting that a slow and often unpredictable review process is one reason some companies have looked to other nations for their SMR projects. “We need to be successful with those things we know, like Vogtle, in order to provide confidence that we can work on something more novel and advanced,” she said. “We need to be mindful as an agency that we are not perceived as an impediment to innovation and the development of new technology.”