Summary of the Clean Energy Act of 2009 (Alexander-Webb)

This is a summary of the Clean Energy Act of 2009, S.2776, as introduced on November 16, 2009.


Section 1. Short Title.
This section states that this bill may be cited as the Clean Energy Act of 2009.

Section 2. Findings.
This section offers findings about the current status and characteristics of nuclear energy and concludes that broader deployment would lead to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and low electricity prices.

Section 3. Revisions to Loan Guarantee Program Authority.
This section amends the loan guarantee program authority enacted in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which currently applies to technologies that are “new or significantly improved” compared to “commercial technologies.” This section revises the definition of “commercial technology” so that a new technology is not considered “commercial” if it is only deployed with loan guarantee support. It instructs the Secretary of Energy to include in loan guarantee agreements terms and conditions to provide for government sharing of proceeds from the sale of project assets with other creditors and government lien priority in project assets as necessary to protect U.S interests in the case of default.  The section changes the collection and refunding of administrative fees.  It limits loan guarantee application review to 180 days.  It also authorizes $10 billion for the “Incentives for Innovative Technologies” title of the Energy Policy Act, which can be leveraged to provide $100 billion in loan guarantees.

Section 4. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
This section presents a sense of Congress that the President should convene a blue-ribbon panel for the development of a Federal nuclear waste policy.  This section orders the Secretary of Energy to expand the existing Nuclear Power 2010 Program in order to enter into cooperative cost-sharing agreements with the private sector to submit to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for design certification and licensing small nuclear reactors (electrical power capacity of less than 350MW or thermal power capacity of less than 900MW) with the Secretary to pay 50% of initial design, permitting, and licensing fees for up to three designs.  The NRC is required to report to Congress on applications for design certification, early site permit, and combined operating license within 90 days of receipt.  $200 million is authorized annually from FY2011 to FY2015 for these purposes.  The NRC is also required to consider that sufficient capacity will be available in a timely manner to dispose of spent fuel and waste when considering construction and operating license applications for facilities.

Section 5. Funding for Workforce Development and Research.
This section authorizes the Secretary of Education, in consultation with the Secretaries of Labor and Energy, to carry out activities to ensure an adequate nuclear workforce and to make grants and develop educational and cooperative programs at secondary schools and postsecondary institutions.  $100 million is authorized annually from FY2011 to FY2020 for these purposes.

This section also authorizes $50 million annually from FY2011 to FY2020 for the Secretary of Energy to carry out research on nuclear reactor power level increases, or uprates, and lifetime-extension.

This section also authorizes funds for the Secretary of Energy to carry out the following research and development activities to advance clean energy annually from FY2011 to FY2020:

  • $150 million for liquid transportation biofuels other than ethanol;
  • $150 million for carbon dioxide capture, storage, or conversion or beneficial reuse of carbon dioxide;
  • $150 million to reduce the cost of batteries for electric vehicles;
  • $150 million to make solar electricity cost-competitive with respect to traditional sources of electricity generation; and
  • $150 million to recycle nuclear fuel.