Administration awards grant to speed sales of small nuclear reactors

The Energy Department still has to negotiate the terms and total amount of the five-year cost-share deal, a spokesman told The Hill. It will use remaining program funds to finance other reactor designs, the Energy official said.

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Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairwoman Allison Macfarlane praised the program last month. She said the first design certification applications for the reactors could come next year with the Energy program’s aid.

Macfarlane said Energy’s investment could help domestic firms grab an early share of the international market for the smaller — and potentially cheaper — reactors.

The reactors range between 100 megawatts and 300 megawatts of electric generating capacity. Most are designed to operate underground, potentially minimizing damage from a spill.

Industry group the Nuclear Energy Institute lauded Energy for moving forward with the grant.

"Our nation's energy future just became considerably brighter. The Department of Energy's important action to advance the development of this innovative reactor design supports the growth of clean-energy sources and the commercialization of advanced energy technologies that can be used domestically and sold overseas,” Marvin Fertel, the group’s president and CEO, said in a Tuesday statement.