NRC Seeks Comment On Lowering Fees

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Wednesday that it was seeking public comment on proposed changes to its licensing, inspection, special project and annual fees that would reflect the agency's diminished budget in era that has been marked by a slowdown in new construction projects.

NRC logoThe agency said the proposed regulations “would reduce annual fees for most licensees, due to a decrease in the NRC's budget.”

The agency has been set up under a legal framework that requires it to recover approximately 90 percent of is budget through fees for its services. For the fiscal year 2016 proposed fee rules, the agency said, the estimated target for its fee levy “after billing and collection adjustments” is $883.9 million.

Some of that figure is already accounted for due to individual services provided to various entities. “Approximately 37 percent of the fees, or $325 million, would recover the cost of specific services to identifiable applicants and licensees,” the NRC said.

That leaves 63 percent or $558.1 million. This would be billed as annual fees (under 10 CFR Part 171). But compared to FY 2015, “fees proposed for FY 2016 would decline for operating reactors, fuel facilities, research and test reactors, spent fuel storage/reactor decommissioning licensees, some material users and DOE (Department of Energy) transportation activities,” the NRC said.

Going the other way, fees would increase for one category of licensees: Uranium recovery organizations.

The NRC proposes to lower the current rate for staff review time from $268 per hour to $266 per hour. Secondly, the NRC proposes to establish a fee structure to recover the agency's costs in responding to significant requests for information, records or NRC employee testimony related to lawsuits “where the NRC is not a named party.”

The fees would be applicable to requests that require over 50 NRC staff hours to manage.

Details on the proposed changes are available through the Federal Register notice announcing the call for public comment.

In addition to fee changes, the NRC is also soliciting comment on how it communicates information on its fees with the aim of increasing transparency and providing clearer and simpler information to the public.

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