The US Department of Energy (DoE) has reached a settlement with Exelon over the cost of interim storage of spent nuclear fuel.

Under the 1982 Nuclear Waste Policy Act, the DoE would take title to spent nuclear fuel from utilities and the military and store it permanently by 1998. In return, utilities paid one tenth of a cent into the Federal Waste Fund for each kWh generated to pay for a storage facility.

However, no such storage facility was ready by 1998 and utilities across the country were forced to build interim stores for their wastes to last until the opening of the Yucca Mountain facility, currently planned for 2010. The Exelon settlement is the first of the dozens of compensations cases are currently pending in the US Court of Federal Claims (see NEI July 2004, p8).

Peach Bottom’s inventory includes 20 dry casks amounting to 2000 tons of spent fuel and casings. In addition, Exelon expects to begin storing dry casks at its Quad Cities plant next year, and the Limerick plant by 2008.

Exelon will be paid $80 million immediately to cover costs already incurred for storage at Peach Bottom and Oyster Creek while further amounts will be paid each year until the DoE takes title to Exelon’s wastes. If Yucca Mountain opens in 2010, Exelon should receive a total of about $300 million, but because the agreement is open-ended, Exelon will continue to receive funds while they hold the waste. If, for example, the Yucca Mountain facility does not open until 2015, payments to Exelon could amount to $600 million.

The money will come from the US government’s Judgement Fund, created to settle claims against the government, not the Waste Fund.

Part of the $80 million payment will be split between co-owners of certain plants, reducing Exelon’s final share to $53 million and Exelon must also repay $43 million that the DoE paid in credits to PECO, a company now owned by Exelon, under a 1998 agreement.

President of Exelon Nuclear, Chris Crane said: “We’re pleased with the result. It resolves the litigation between the parties, it eliminates a financial uncertainty for both Exelon and DoE and it allows the government to meet its obligations.”

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