U.S. replaces China on Romania’s Cernavoda project

Brouillette

Popescu

U.S. Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette and Romania’s Minister of Economy, Energy, and Business Development Virgil Popescu initialed a draft intergovernmental agreement on October 9 to cooperate on the construction of two additional reactors at the Cernavoda nuclear power plant, as well as the refurbishment of Unit 1.

According to a Department of Energy news release, the agreement, once formally executed, will “lay the foundation” for Romania to “utilize U.S. expertise and technology.” The deal marks a major change in Romania’s plans for its sole nuclear plant, as up until early this year the source for that expertise and technology was expected to be China.

Brouillette: Nuclear should be part of California’s energy problem solution

Brouillette

In an op-ed published on September 25 in the Orange County Register, Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette decryed the state of California’s handling of its energy crisis.

Brouillette criticized state leaders for championing a 100 percent renewable energy plan that ignores nuclear and natural gas. He also found fault with the plan to prematurely close the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.

Advanced nuclear to be a focus of reopened Arctic Energy Office

The Department of Energy has announced the reestablishment of the Arctic Energy Office (AEO), to be located on the campus of the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The AEO was originally established in 2001 but failed to receive sufficient funding. Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette had pledged to reopen the office by the close of the current federal fiscal year.

The focus of the AEO, according to the DOE, will include international cooperation on Arctic issues, research on methane hydrates, and the development of advanced microgrids and nuclear power systems, such as small modular reactors.

Menezes confirmed as deputy energy secretary

Menezes

In a bipartisan 79–16 vote, the Senate on August 4 confirmed Mark W. Menezes to be the nation’s deputy secretary of energy. Prior to his confirmation, Menezes had served as undersecretary of energy to both Secretary Dan Brouillette and his predecessor, Rick Perry. An official swearing-in ceremony will take place at a later time.

Before joining the Trump administration in 2017, Menezes was an executive with Berkshire Hathaway Energy. He has also worked on Capitol Hill as chief counsel for energy and environment for the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, where he served as chief negotiator for the House majority in the enactment of the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

DFC drops prohibition on nuclear project financing

The U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) has lifted its ban on financing nuclear power projects abroad. Last month, the DFC proposed the change to its Environmental and Social Policy and Procedures, which had specifically prohibited it from offering such support.

The change, announced by the DFC on July 23, also implements a key recommendation made in an April 2020 report issued by the U.S. Nuclear Fuel Working Group, an interagency initiative to review and modernize U.S. nuclear energy policy.

How the U.S. can retake the global nuclear lead

More than a thousand participants joined a Department of Energy webinar on May 29 for a discussion of the Trump administration’s strategy for restoring the United States to a globally predominant position in the field of nuclear energy. The strategy was laid out in the Nuclear Fuel Working Group’s recent report, Restoring America’s Competitive Nuclear Energy Advantage. (For details on the NRWG’s report, see our coverage here.)

Excitement builds for ANS Virtual Annual Meeting

The 2020 ANS Virtual Annual Meeting promises to be a unique event in the history of the American Nuclear Society. The first all-virtual ANS meeting runs from June 8 to 11 and is being conducted via Zoom, a videoconferencing app that has gained widespread popularity since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

More than 1,700 registrants have already signed up, making for the largest ANS meeting in modern history. More than 90 sessions will be held, with over 200 papers to be presented. Meeting registration will be open through Wednesday, June 10.