Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Bush Budget Plan Could Slow Down Nuclear Projects |

Analyst:Bush Budget Plan Could Slow Down Nuclear Projects

WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)--The Bush Administration's proposed funding cuts to the U.S Department of Energy's Nuclear Power 2010 initiative could hamper efforts to advance new nuclear projects, according to Stanford Washington Research Group analyst Christine Tezak.
The Nuclear Power 2010 initiative is a joint government-industry program aimed at identifying sites for new nuclear power plants based on advanced nuclear technologies.
The industry sees the program as a way to reduce the technical and regulatory uncertainties associated with nuclear projects.
In its fiscal year 2007 budget request released Monday, the Bush Administration highlighted nuclear power as a clean way to produce electricity and proposed a major $250 million initiative to revive nuclear waste reprocessing in the U.S.
However, the administration also proposed cuts to the Nuclear Power 2010 initiative, proposing to reduce funding from $65.3 million in fiscal year 2006 to $54 million in fiscal year 2007.
"We are a bit disappointed by this set of budget priorities that seems to send the signal that administration is putting the cart before the horse at a moment when the nuclear project pipeline is just forming critical mass," said Tezak in her most recent research report, adding that industry sources were hoping to see the funding level for the program jump to $90 million. "The message now being sent to market participants is not one of enthusiastic support."
She voiced concern that the funding cuts could "slow down" the ability of DOE and project sponsors to move forward on nuclear projects funded by the Nuclear 2010 program, which are being pursued by companies such as Dominion Resources Inc. (D.NYS), Entergy Corp. (ETR), Exelon Corp. (EXC), and Southern Co. (SO), among others.
Still, she noted that the U.S. Congress could increase the funding level.
Meanwhile, John Kane, the Nuclear Energy Institute's senior vice president of governmental affairs, also called for increased funds for the Nuclear Power 2010 program as well as a university research reactor and education program.
He noted that the DOE budget request seeks a 55% increase in funding for nuclear energy-related research, but it also zeroes out funding for the university research program and cuts funding for the Nuclear Power 2010 program by 17%.
"The two programs are critical to keep the new nuclear plant momentum up and to support mathematics and science education to ensure a highly-trained work force to support our future," said Kane.


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