[Federal Register Volume 74, Number 56 (Wednesday, March 25, 2009)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 12735-12737]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E9-6554]

Proposed Rules
                                                Federal Register

This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains notices to the public of 
the proposed issuance of rules and regulations. The purpose of these 
notices is to give interested persons an opportunity to participate in 
the rule making prior to the adoption of the final rules.


Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 56 / Wednesday, March 25, 2009 / 
Proposed Rules

[[Page 12735]]



10 CFR Part 171

RIN 3150-AI54

Variable Annual Fee Structure for Power Reactors

AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION: Advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR).


SUMMARY: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is considering whether 
to propose to amend its rule governing annual fees to establish a 
variable annual fee structure for power reactors based on licensed 
power limits. Current regulations governing annual fees require that 
each operating power reactor pay the same annual fee, regardless of the 
size of the reactor. The NRC has determined that the current single 
annual fee structure for power reactors should be reviewed in light of 
the potential for future licensing of small and medium sized nuclear 
reactors, some of which may not be used to generate electric power, and 
some of which may be used and licensed in configurations of up to 
twenty (20) reactors (modules). Although issuance of a license for a 
small or medium sized reactor which triggers imposition of fees may be 
several years in the future, this ANPR invites early input from 
interested stakeholders and the public on the issues relevant to the 
establishment of a variable annual fee structure for power reactors.

DATES: Submit comments by June 8, 2009. Comments received after this 
date will be considered if it is practical to do so, but the Commission 
is able to ensure consideration only for comments received on or before 
this date.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by any one of the following methods. 
Comments submitted in writing or in electronic form will be made 
available for public inspection. Because your comments will not be 
edited to remove any identifying or contact information, the NRC 
cautions you against including any information in your submission that 
you do not want to be publicly disclosed.
    Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov and 
search for documents filed under Docket ID NRC-2008-0664. Address 
questions about NRC dockets to Carol Gallagher 301-492-3668; e-mail 
[email protected].
    Mail comments to: Secretary, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 
Washington, DC 20555-0001, Attn: Rulemakings and Adjudications Staff.
    E-mail comments to: [email protected]. If you do not 
receive a reply e-mail confirming that we have received your comments, 
contact us directly at 301-415-1677.
    Hand deliver comments to: 11555 Rockville Pike, Rockville, Maryland 
20852, between 7:30 a.m. and 4:15 p.m. Federal workdays (Telephone 301-
    Fax comments to: Secretary, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission at 
    You can access publicly available documents related to this 
document using the following methods:
    NRC's Public Document Room (PDR): The public may examine and have 
copied for a fee publicly available documents at the NRC's PDR, Public 
File Area O1 F21, One White Flint North, 11555 Rockville Pike, 
Rockville, Maryland.
    NRC's Agencywide Documents Access and Management System (ADAMS): 
Publicly available documents created or received at the NRC are 
available electronically at the NRC's Electronic Reading Room at http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/adams.html. From this page, the public can gain 
entry into ADAMS, which provides text and image files of NRC's public 
documents. If you do not have access to ADAMS or if there are problems 
in accessing the documents located in ADAMS, contact the NRC's PDR 
reference staff at 1-800-397-4209, 301-415-4737, or by e-mail to 
[email protected].

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rebecca I. Erickson, Office of the 
Chief Financial Officer, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 
Washington, DC 20555-0001; telephone 301-415-7126; e-mail 
[email protected].



    The NRC is required each year, under the Omnibus Budget 
Reconciliation Act of 1990 (OBRA-90) (42 U.S.C. 2214), as amended, to 
recover through fees to NRC licensees and applicants approximately 90 
percent of its budget authority after subtracting the amounts 
appropriated from the Nuclear Waste Fund (NWF), amounts appropriated 
for Waste Incidental to Reprocessing (WIR) activities, and amounts 
appropriated for generic homeland security activities. The 10 percent 
not recovered by fees in the NRC's annual appropriation covers the 
costs of agency activities that do not provide a direct benefit to NRC 
licensees, such as international assistance and Agreement State 
    The NRC assesses two types of fees to meet the requirements of 
OBRA-90, as amended. First, license and inspection fees, established in 
10 CFR part 170 under the authority of the Independent Offices 
Appropriation Act of 1952 (IOAA) (31 U.S.C. 9701), recover the NRC's 
costs of providing special benefits to identifiable applicants and 
licensees. Examples of the services provided by the NRC for which these 
fees are assessed are the review of applications for new licenses and 
the review of renewal applications, the review of amendment requests, 
and inspections. Second, annual fees established in 10 CFR part 171 
under the authority of OBRA-90, as amended, recover generic and other 
regulatory costs not otherwise recovered through 10 CFR part 170 fees.
    The assessment of annual fees by the NRC began in fiscal year (FY) 
1987 to meet the requirements of Public Law 99-272, the Consolidated 
Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA \1\), which required 
the NRC to recover 33 percent of its budget authority. In the FY 1987 
fee rule, the NRC established a uniform annual fee for each licensed 
nuclear power reactor under the new part 171 (51 FR 33224; September 
18, 1986). The NRC also considered calculating the annual fee on power 
reactors based on the thermal megawatt ratings of those reactors in the 
FY 1987 proposed fee rule (51 FR

[[Page 12736]]

24078, 24082-3; July 1, 1986). In its consideration, the NRC analyzed 
the amendment, operator licensing, and inspection costs as billed to 
licensees for the period of June 1984 to June 1985. At that time, the 
NRC analysis found no necessary relationship or predictive trend 
between the thermal megawatt rating of a reactor and NRC regulatory 

    \1\ COBRA was replaced in December 1987, when Congress passed 
OBRA 87. The NRC is currently under the requirements of OBRA 90, as 

    In recognition of the problem that some licensees of smaller 
reactors may have in paying substantially increased fees due to the 
requirements of the new part 171, the NRC provided for fee exemptions 
under Sec.  171.11 Exemption (51 FR 33230; September 18, 1986):

    The Commission may, upon application, grant an exemption, in 
part, from the annual fee required pursuant to this part. An 
exemption under this provision may be granted by the Commission 
taking into consideration the following factors:
    (a) Age of the reactor;
    (b) Size of the reactor;
    (c) Number of customers in rate base;
    (d) Net increase in KWh cost for each customer directly related 
to the annual fee assessed under this part; and
    (e) Any other relevant matter which the licensee believes 
justifies the reduction of the annual fee.

    In an effort to provide a more equitable distribution among the 
licensed nuclear power reactors of the amount required to be collected, 
the NRC re-evaluated the uniform annual fee for power reactors. As a 
result, under the FY 1989 Fee Rule (53 FR 52632; December 29, 1988), 
each reactor was assessed fees based on those NRC activities from which 
it benefited as a type or within a class of reactors. The new 
methodology took into account the kind of reactor, its location and 
other considerations in relation to the generic research and other 
costs associated with power reactor regulation.
    In FY 1995, the NRC re-examined this very detailed and labor 
intensive approach to determine reactor annual fees in an attempt to 
streamline the fee program. The NRC's analysis determined that the 
complex fee assessment was implemented when there were significant 
differences in the NRC research funding for the various types of 
reactors, which was no longer the case. Further, the NRC determined 
that establishing a single uniform annual fee for each operating power 
reactor would not cause an unfair burden and would simplify the fee 
process. As a result, the NRC amended Sec.  171.15 to implement a 
uniform annual fee assessed to all licensed operating power reactors 
(60 FR 32218; June 20, 1995).
    In the FY 2005 fee rule (70 FR 30526; May 26, 2005), the NRC 
amended the fee exemption under Sec.  171.11 that was implemented in 
1986 by eliminating the ``size of the reactor'' factor. Because none of 
the smaller reactors were still licensed to operate, the NRC had not 
issued waivers on the basis of size for several years. Moreover, no 
other class of licensee contained an exemption provision based on size. 
Therefore, the reference to size of the reactor as a consideration in 
evaluating annual fee exemption requests was no longer needed.
    In FY 2008, approximately 90 percent of NRC's fee recoverable 
budget was allocated to the operating power reactors fee class, of 
which approximately 60 percent or $419.3 million was recovered through 
part 171 annual fees. The $419.3 million in budgeted costs was divided 
equally among the 104 power reactors licensed to operate, which 
resulted in an FY 2008 annual fee of $4,032,000 per reactor under Sec.  
171.15(b)(1). Additionally, under Sec.  171.15(c)(1) each power reactor 
licensed to operate was assessed a spent fuel storage/reactor 
decommissioning annual fee of $135,000 in FY 2008. Thus, the total FY 
2008 annual fee of $4,167,000 was assessed to each power reactor.
    The 104 power reactors currently licensed to operate have licensed 
power limits ranging from 1500 to 3990 megawatts thermal (MWt). 
However, the NRC anticipates receiving applications to license small 
and medium sized commercial nuclear reactors with capacities ranging 
from 30 to 1000 MWt. The small and medium sized reactors could be any 
of the advanced reactor designs, including high-temperature gas-cooled 
reactors, sodium-cooled fast reactor, and small light-water reactors. 
Some of these small and medium sized reactors may not generate electric 
power, but instead be used to generate process heat for industrial 
applications such as the production of hydrogen. Current regulations 
governing annual fees for power reactors require the same fees from a 
nuclear reactor designed to produce electrical or heat energy.

Specific Proposal

    The Commission is considering whether to propose to amend Sec.  
171.15 to establish a variable annual fee structure for power reactors 
based on the reactor's licensed power limit contained in the operating 
license (including a combined license).

Specific Considerations

    Before it considers a proposed rule on the subject, the NRC is 
seeking advice and recommendations on this matter from all interested 
persons. The NRC invites advice and recommendations on an amendment to 
annual fees for power reactor licensees reflecting these and any other 
pertinent points from all interested persons. Comments and supporting 
reasons are particularly requested on the following questions:

Power Reactors Variable Fees

    Q.1. Should the NRC establish a variable annual fee structure based 
on either the licensed thermal or electric power limits of the power 
reactor? What variables should be considered in establishing such a fee 
structure? In particular, should reactors producing process heat be 
treated the same as reactors producing heat for the generation of 
electricity? What are the considerations associated with establishing a 
variable annual fee structure based upon thermal, as opposed to 
electric power?
    Q.2. If the NRC establishes a variable annual fee structure, what 
should the ranges be for each group or category of reactors? What 
criteria should be used to determine the fees for the different groups 
or categories of reactors (e.g., power level, reactor technology, 
associated NRC resources)?
    Q.3. Current nuclear power plants use a configuration in which a 
single large reactor provides the heat to produce electric power. 
However, future plant concepts may include two or more small to medium 
sized reactors to provide the heat to power one or more turbines 
connected to an electric generator. Should a variable annual fee 
structure account for the potential configurations?
    Q.4. Current nuclear power plants have one, two or three large 
reactors located at the same site. Current applications for new 
reactors could result in up to four large reactors at a single site. 
However, future plant concepts may have up to twenty (20) reactors 
(modules) operating at the same site. Should the variable annual fee 
structure account for this configuration? If so, what are the 
considerations in establishing such a fee structure?
    Q.5. Currently, each licensed reactor located at the same site is 
treated as a separate unit for purposes of calculating and assessing 
the annual fee. However, external stakeholders in the past have 
suggested that a single comprehensive license be issued for a set of 
modular reactors located at a single site. The licensee would have 
substantial flexibility in determining whether and when to construct 
and operate each reactor module in such a plant. Should the variable 
annual fee structure account for this reactor licensing concept? If so, 
what are the

[[Page 12737]]

considerations in establishing such a fee structure?
    Q.6. Are there other factors that should be considered in 
determining the annual fee for power reactors?
    There will be another opportunity for additional public comment in 
connection with any proposed rule that may be developed by the 

List of Subjects in 10 CFR Part 171

    Annual charges, Byproduct material, Holders of certificates, 
Registrations, Approvals, Intergovernmental relations, Non-payment 
penalties, Nuclear materials, Nuclear power plants and reactors, Source 
material, Special nuclear material.

    The authority citation for this document is: 42 U.S.C. 2201; 42 
U.S.C. 5841.

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 11th day of March, 2009.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
J.E. Dyer,
Chief Financial Officer.
[FR Doc. E9-6554 Filed 3-24-09; 8:45 am]