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Sanders The Sole Vote Against Small Modular Reactor Research via the energy collective

Posted August 19, 2011 by Meredith Angwin

Bernie Sanders and Small Modular Reactors

Senator Bernie Sanders often speaks about his opposition to Vermont Yankee as having something to do with the age of the plant, the fact it is owned by Entergy, or his “state’s rights” stance about regulating nuclear power plants.
Recently, however, Sanders made it clear that he is against nuclear power in any form and is proud of that opinion. On Senator Sanders website, he featured the fact that he was the only vote against “a pair of measures that would promote the development of small modular reactors.”
One of these measures was the Nuclear Power Act S512. This act would authorize the Secretary of Energy to start a cost-shared program for development of small modular reactors (SMRs).
This act had strong bi-partisan support, being sponsored by 3 Republican and 4 Democratic Senators. The act requires research and development funds for SMRs. The Act is still in process, and does not have a firm dollar amount attached, but the dollar amount is likely to be small (in government terms, at least.). Current estimates are $100 million per fiscal year for four years, starting next year.
The act also requires that industry cost-share the expense. If industry doesn’t think it is worth spending money on the research, the research will not receive government funding either.
As a background to the probable cost of this Act, we should note that President Obama requested $4.8 billion dollars for Department of Energy research, of which $3.2 billion is allocated for renewable energy and energy efficiency research. (This number has changed with the debt deal, but new numbers are not available at this time.)

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