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For Immediate Release: June 1, 2011
Contact: Robert J. Thormeyer, 202-898-9382, rthormeyer@naruc.org

Reforming Nuclear Waste Fund 'Essential,' NARUC's White Says

WASHINGTON—Revitalizing the nation’s stalled nuclear-waste program must come with a reformation of how the program is paid for, State utility commissioners reiterated today.

In testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on the Environment and the Economy, Commissioner Greg White of the Michigan Public Service Commission said the Nuclear Waste Fund must be altered as the federal government considers a new nuclear-waste strategy.

“If the Nuclear Waste Fund is going to be the means of implementing a revitalized waste program, whether by [the Energy Department] or a new organization, the Fund needs to be reformed to serve the purpose it was created for—to enable the users of nuclear power to pay for the disposal of the waste it produces,” Commissioner White said.

Commissioner White testified on behalf of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners and the Michigan PSC.

In his testimony, Commissioner White echoed previous NARUC statements expressing frustration with the stalled nuclear-waste program. Despite collecting more than $31 billion since 1983 from consumers into the Nuclear Waste Fund, the U.S. is no closer to resolving the nuclear-waste program than it was almost 30 years ago, Commissioner White said.

In fact, the only aspect of the nuclear program that has worked as intended is the collection of the fees themselves, he said. Almost every other element of the program has either been delayed or indefinitely postponed, he said, referring to the Department of Energy’s efforts to scrap the proposed Yucca Mountain, Nev., repository.

“We can only speculate how much time and money it will take the U.S. to be ready to accept used fuel for disposal—if it is other than Yucca—but it is likely to be decades,” Commissioner White said. 

Given these costly delays central interim storage “seems essential,” he said, and doing so will only add to the burden nuclear-power consumers are shouldering. This means the Nuclear Waste Fund is in need of a new direction. “Regardless of what storage, transportation or disposal solutions [the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future] may recommend, they will need certain and reliable financing support… Yucca Mountain did not fail for lack of utilities and their ratepayers making the payments into the Nuclear Waste Fund,” Commissioner White said.

Commissioner White's testimony is available here.

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NARUC is a non-profit organization founded in 1889 whose members include the governmental agencies that are engaged in the regulation of utilities and carriers in the fifty States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. NARUC's member agencies regulate telecommunications, energy, and water utilities. NARUC represents the interests of State public utility commissions before the three branches of the Federal government.

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