NRC Proposes Adjustments to Annual Fees and Fee Schedules

Morgan Lewis - Up & Atom

Morgan Lewis - Up & Atom

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has issued a proposed rule to amend the licensing, inspection, special project, and annual fees charged to applicants and licensees. The proposed amendments are necessary under the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act (NEIMA) to ensure the NRC recovers approximately its full annual budget, except funds for specific excluded activities. Among other changes, the NRC proposes decreasing the annual fee for the operating power reactors fee class by $4,000—approximately 0.07%—from $5.492 million in fiscal year 2023 to $5.488 million.

Budget Requirements and Proposed Recoveries

The NRC published working papers detailing its budget requirements and proposed recoveries. The NRC’s 2024 fiscal year budget is $1.006 billion, a $79.1 million increase from last year. The NRC will use $27.1 million in carryover from fiscal year 2023 to offset the current budget.

Certain fees totaling $156 million are excluded from NEIMA’s fee-recovery requirement, including costs for fee-relief activities, advanced nuclear regulatory infrastructure activities, generic homeland security activities, waste incidental to reprocessing activities, and US Office of Inspector General services for the US Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board.

Approximately $205.5 million is estimated to be recovered through 10 CFR Part 170 fees for licensing services, inspection services, and special projects for facilities, materials, and import and export licenses. The remaining budget of $617.7 million, as well as a $2.5 million billing adjustment, is estimated to be recovered through 10 CFR Part 171 annual fees for reactor licenses, fuel licenses, and materials licenses, including holders of certificates of compliance, registrations, and quality assurance program approvals and government agencies licensed by the NRC.

The NRC proposes to collect approximately $515.9 million in annual fees from the operating power reactors fee class. To meet this target, the NRC proposes an annual fee of $5,488,000 per operating power reactor. This is actually a decrease in the proposed annual fee for the operating power reactors fee class compared to last year, driven by:

  • An anticipated increase in 10 CFR Part 170 estimated billings
  • An increase in the total number of operating power reactors from 93 to 94
  • The carryover of approximately $27.1 from fiscal year 2023

In addition, the NRC estimates that each licensed operating power reactor will be assessed a $330,000 spent fuel storage/reactor decommissioning annual fee, an approximate 26% increase from last year.

Additional Fee Adjustments

The NRC has also proposed additional fee adjustments for licensees and applicants. For example, the NRC proposes increasing its hourly professional rate by 7% from $300 to $321. Further, the NRC proposed to amend its payment methods to be consistent with the US Department of the Treasury's “no-cash, no-check” policy by requiring payments be made electronically. The NRC stated this amendment will improve the timeliness of collections, thereby reducing interest, penalty, and administrative fees associated with overdue payments.

Deadline for Comments

The NRC requests comments on the proposed amendments by March 21. The NRC notes that it is unable to grant any extension to the comment period, as the NRC must collect fees for fiscal year 2024 by September 30.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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