Lawmakers question award process after Westinghouse-Ameren proposal to construct small modular nuclear reactors in Missouri is denied
A letter to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), led by Senator Claire McCaskill and signed by members of Missouri's Congressional delegation, asks Secretary Steven Chu to explain why an application to build Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) in Missouri was denied.
"We have yet to be provided a reasonable explanation regarding why DOE did not select the Westinghouse/Ameren proposal," the letter reads.
The letter, circulated by U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill and signed by fellow Republican Senator Roy Blunt and five Missouri members of the U.S House of Representatives, refers to a 2012 DOE decision to award only one company a contract to build SMRs. This decision was made despite public statements by the DOE that two separate awards would be given, in part to foster competition in the SMR marketplace, which would enhance development and reduce costs.
"This decision is at odds with DOE's justification for the program, which could jeopardize the development of a viable SMR industry in the United States," lawmakers wrote in their letter to Secretary of Energy Steven Chu.
The letter requests clarification on several issues, including why the DOE decided to select only one application as well as the decision to abandon their initial goal of fostering competition in the SMR market. The Missouri lawmakers urge Secretary Chu to consider a second round of awards under the original criteria set by DOE, which would honor DOE's initial commitment while also focusing on practical advances in the power-production industry.
"As you are well aware, the history of the nuclear industry is cluttered with "innovative' designs that never came close to successfully licensing," the lawmakers wrote. "In light of these concerns, we request DOE consider issuing a second award under the original Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA). However, should DOE proceed with a second FOA, such award should be made to a qualified applicant that at minimum meets or exceeds all criteria established under the original FOA.."
The letter to Secretary Chu follows a long history of bipartisan advocacy by Missouri's lawmakers seeking to bring SMR development to Missouri, including a recent newspaper column signed by McCaskill and Representative Blaine Luetkemeyer promoting the Ameren/Westinghouse application.
The link to the letter is below.