Funding for nuclear energy R&D at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) got a boost in the appropriations bill approved by Congress in March.
Idaho 2nd CD Congressman Mike Simpson told Idaho Falls TV station KIFI that he thinks the bill is good for Idaho.
“This is a comprehensive and responsible package that contains many important provisions for Idaho and Western States,” said Simpson.
As Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development and a senior member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and Environment, Simpson had a key role in deciding funding for the Department of Energy and Department of Interior.
Simpson said the appropriations bill makes critical investments in advanced reactor and nuclear fuel research and development programs at the Idaho National Laboratory. It also makes significant investments in grid security programs.
The Office of Nuclear Energy was funded at $1.2 billion, an increase of $188 million above fiscal year 2017. The bill includes:
- The Idaho Facilities Management account, which covers infrastructure maintenance and improvement at INL, is funded at $294 million – an increase of $56.3 million above fiscal year 2017 and $90 million above the budget request.
- INL’s Safeguards and Security Program is funded at $133 million – an increase of $3.7 million over fiscal year 2017.
- The Nuclear Energy Enabling Technologies program is funded at $159 million – an increase of $44 million above fiscal year 2017.
- The Reactor Concepts Research, Development, and Demonstration account is funded at $237 million – an increase of $105 million above last year.
- Within the overall $237 million level for this account, $30 million is allocated to fuel qualification for the High Temperature Gas Reactor, and $60 million is for a solicitation to support technical, first-of-its-kind engineering and design and regulatory development of next generation light water and non-light water reactor technologies, including small modular reactors.
- The Light Water Reactor Sustainability program, which is managed by INL and promotes the continued safe operation of America’s existing nuclear reactors, is funded at $47 million – an increase of $7 million over last year.
- Within the Fuel Cycle Research and Development program, the Advanced Fuels program is funded at $125 million—a $57 million increase from fiscal year 2017; and Used Nuclear Fuel Disposition research and development is funded at $86.4 million.
- The bill includes $85.5 million for the Advanced Test Reactor, $198 million for the spent fuel handling recapitalization project, $10 million to complete development of the electric grid test bed, $25 million for energy efficient mobility systems, $15 million for bio-energy and $9 million for integrated energy systems.
- The measure also includes $434 million for the Idaho Cleanup Project and Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project. That is an increase of $52 million over fiscal year 2017.
INL Benefits for Idaho
And there were benefits for communities surrounding the Idaho lab which covers a land area the size of Rhode Island.
“The Interior portion of the Omnibus contains provisions that are critical to Idaho,” said Simpson. He added the following points.
- “I am thrilled to see a fix to fire borrowing included. I have been working on this issue since 2013 and it is long past due that fires are treated like other natural disasters.
- “Notably, this bill recognizes the late Governor Andrus by naming the White Clouds Wilderness after him. A well-deserved honor for a man who dedicate his life to public service.”
- “I am also pleased to see vital funding for PILT and SRS which our rural counties need.”
- The bill also provides a $185 million increase for the National Park Service to help reduce the deferred maintenance backlog.
Department of Energy Extends Contract at INL for Five Years
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has decided to extend its contract with Battelle Energy Alliance (BEA) to manage and operate Idaho National Laboratory (INL). DOE officially approved the contract modification that enables a five-year extension through Sept. 30, 2024.
DOE originally awarded BEA the management contract in November 2004, when INL was created. That contract ran from Feb. 1, 2005 until Sept. 30, 2014. At that point, DOE exercised a five-year option period that was set to expire Sept. 30, 2019. With the new five-year extension, BEA is contracted to operate and manage INL through Sept. 30, 2024.
Some key INL initiatives during the term of the contract extension will include:
- Providing world-class nuclear science and technology capabilities to the nation, including the Advanced Test Reactor (ATR), Transient Reactor Test Facility (TREAT), and the Materials and Fuels Complex (MFC), to revitalize the nuclear energy sector in the United States.
- Continuing research and development on advanced reactor designs, including partnering with the private sector to develop and demonstrate micro-reactor technologies for potentially powering remote communities and military bases around the world.
- This work will also include partnerships with industry and other stakeholders to develop and deploy the next generation of nuclear reactors including small modular reactors (SMRs).
- Improving upon INL’s world-leading cyber security capabilities and expertise, including efforts to make the nation’s power grids, transportation and water systems more resilient from cyber, physical and natural threats.
- Extending the electric vehicle corridor in the west, including longer-lived batteries and improved charging infrastructure.
- Developing integrated energy systems to stabilize the power grid and increase energy storage capabilities.
- Continuing support for biofuels research and turning captured carbon into usable products, something that could help the nation’s coal plants reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
- Promoting STEM education and working with our college and university partners to fill the pipeline of potential future employees with talented scientists, engineers, technicians and support personnel.
- And finally, productive partnerships with academia, industry, and federal, state and local governments that allow us to solve complex problems while driving economic growth and making American industry more competitive on a global scale, now and into the future.
INL is one of the DOE’s national laboratories. The laboratory performs work in each of DOE’s strategic goal areas: energy, national security, science and environment. INL is the nation’s leading center for nuclear energy research and development. Day-to-day management and operation of the laboratory is the responsibility of Battelle Energy Alliance.
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