FEWER REACTOR APPLICATIONS SQUEEZE NUCLEAR AGENCY’S BUDGET, STAFF

Nuclear Regulatory Commission2

Warning: This post may damper your holiday spirit.

Continued pressure from Congress and fewer new nuclear reactor applications for review are causing the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to focus on reducing the size of its staff and budget.
The agency has a goal of reducing the number of staff by several hundred by the beginning of fiscal year 2019 (starting Oct. 1, 2018), NRC Chairman Stephen Burns, told me Tuesday in an exclusive interview.
The total number is still speculative, but he said it is dependent on the workload at the agency, which is receiving fewer nuclear reactor applications than in the past. 

Burns said that beyond the combined license applications for new nuclear reactors they currently have under review--which totals two applications as of late December--they don’t anticipate many others in the near term. The NRC most recently issued two licenses to Duke Energy Carolinas LLC. Analysts say there is no market to build the reactors in the energy economy of low gas prices. 
As of late November, the NRC had 3,440 full-time equivalent employees. The agency embarked in June 2015 on Project Aim 2020, which intends to streamline the agency and reduce staff. My full story on the expected staff reduction is coming soon.