U.S. NRC Blog

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Taking a Long-Term View on New Reactor Licenses

Scott Burnell
Public Affairs Officer

Since 2012, the NRC has licensed 11 new reactors in the United States. The first four of those are under construction, two in Georgia and two in South Carolina.

The other seven? Their licenses are ready to go whenever the companies involved choose to start building them, and here’s why.

These new reactors are authorized through the NRC’s Combined License process. Under this approach the license includes permission to both build a reactor and operate it later, as long as a detailed list of completion requirements are met.

A Combined License includes the same 40-year operating period as the licenses for today’s reactors. Those 40 years start when the NRC concludes the reactor has been built according to its license and can operate safely. The construction portion, on the other hand, is set up without a definitive expiration date.

We base our permission to build the reactor on our review of technical and environmental information the applicant provided. Issuing a license means we found all that information acceptable.

Let’s imagine Company X receives a Combined License and waits 10 years before deciding to start construction. If the original information is still valid, the project could get underway. Most categories of information won’t change in that time. The license includes provisions where the company must account for new information when it decides to start construction.

All of this means that companies with a Combined License can therefore take additional time to consider those issues affecting the business decision to construct or not that fall outside the NRC’s jurisdiction. For example, a state’s utility agencies can create or revise policies on how the state obtains and pays for electricity. Changes in interest rates, prices for other electricity sources and even the makeup of regional electricity markets can affect the company’s overall business case.

Once a company concludes conditions are right for using a Combined License, the utility will give the NRC advance notice of its intent to start construction. The NRC will inspect construction activities and otherwise ensure the company meets relevant requirements for protecting the public.

21 responses to “Taking a Long-Term View on New Reactor Licenses

  1. Anonymous July 31, 2017 at 4:27 pm

    After having waited for over a month to my posting above, It is implied that, the Agency discontinues the communication mode via blog effectively, am I right in assuming!

  2. JohnEArnold July 31, 2017 at 2:12 pm

    Stronger regulatory/industry standards across the board are so necessary, especially if we are talking about recycling and redistribution of toxic nuclear waste.

  3. Valerij July 13, 2017 at 10:32 am

    Now it is very important to remember that it is necessary to approach very carefully the licensing of nuclear power plants.
    You can visit Chernobyl https://chernobyl-city.com.
    And in Chernobyl you can see how dangerous is nuclear power.

  4. Anonymous June 27, 2017 at 5:18 pm

    Is the agency stuck in neutral with this one blog(for more than 4-months)!! Are there no more topics to discuss Or is it that, there no political will to be transparent?

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