FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NEWS MEDIA CONTACT:
First Agreement Reached with Utility on Nuclear Waste Acceptance
Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson today announced that an agreement has been signed with PECO Energy Company to address the Energy Department's delay in accepting spent fuel from utilities.
The agreement, which is in the form of a contract amendment and is the first such agreement, applies only to PECO's Peach Bottom Plant in Pennsylvania, but is intended to be a framework that can be applied to other nuclear power plants. Negotiations for the other plants will be conducted on a plant-by-plant basis.
"Today's agreement demonstrates that the department and the utilities can reach a resolution regarding our delay without resorting to costly and protracted litigation, and I hope it will be a precedent for additional settlement negotiations with other utilities," said Secretary Richardson. "This administration is committed to resolving the complex, important issue of nuclear waste disposal in a timely and sensible manner and remains committed to a safe, permanent geologic repository."
The agreement allows PECO to reduce the projected charges paid into the Nuclear Waste Fund to reflect costs reasonably incurred by PECO due to the department's delay. PECO could be able to make an adjustment of their charges by up to $80 million over the next 10 years. Under the agreement, PECO must demonstrate that the adjustments were the direct result of the department's delay in moving spent nuclear fuel from the Peach Bottom Plant.
"This contract amendment is a positive step forward that will provide for the appropriate reimbursement of costs that result from delays in siting the repository without impairing the Nuclear Waste Fund," said Corbin A. McNeill, Jr., Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, PECO Energy Company. "While it is unfortunate that there is not yet a permanent solution for spent nuclear fuel, we remain optimistic that the government will fulfill its long-term obligation."
Secretary Richardson has been working with the utilities on the department's 1998 contractual obligation to take spent fuel from utilities since he came to the department and intends to continue working towards additional settlement agreements.
The Secretary of Energy will make a decision next year whether to recommend Yucca Mountain, Nevada, to the President as the site for the permanent geologic repository based on scientific and technical studies done at the site.