ASSISSTANCE TO NUCLEAR POWER HOST COMMUNITIES SECURED IN FY 2020 FEDERAL BUDGET!
There is some good news in this year’s federal budget for communities facing the closure of a nuclear power plant. In particular, the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) was allocated $15,000,000 to help nuclear closure communities (NCCs) plan for economic recovery in the wake of power plant closures. Yes, many details are still in process but there is new hope that dedicated – if modest – resources for NCCs can bring some measure of relief.
Congress budgeted federal funds for two reasons. First, the problem is real. A typical nuclear power plant contributes $400M annually to its regional economy. Plant closure directly results in job loss and a decrease in tax revenues needed to support local services (e.g. schools, roads, emergency services). Filling that economic void requires thoughtful planning and the resources to support it. This funding could help with planning and support projects designed to replace old economic opportunities with new ones.
Second, nuclear closure communities and officials are starting to be heard. At the Nuclear Decommissioning Collaborative, we are also raising awareness on the issue. Together, we share an important early victory by securing this essential funding.
Use of Funds/Activities
The funds are designed to leverage existing assets and support strategies for economic development in nuclear closure communities. While the details are still being worked out, it’s likely that EDA will take a similar approach to the “American Coal Communities” program, which has been part of EDA’s programs for the past several years.
Every impacted community is different. Each will be at a different place in economic development planning and readiness. Rules for the funds will be flexible enough to meet each community’s needs. For example, funds could include developing or improving a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) and other economic development planning tools for responding to the economic impact of nuclear power plant closure. Another community may want to expand an office park, better support downtown businesses focused on small-scale manufacturing, or create opportunities to incubate new business ideas. The point is, EDA can support any of these outcomes. The sky is the limit for communities considering options on how best to respond to this kind of economic adjustment.
While the planning for how EDA will award these funds is not complete, it’s reasonable to expect that these dedicated funds will be part of a competitive, application-based process. This competitive process is typically supported by a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) that provides details on how the funds are to be used and what process EDA will follow in receiving and evaluating applications. Stay tuned for more on this as the program gets legs.
See the budget bill language here.
This move by Congress, and the assistance from EDA it enables, will not make the economic challenges of nuclear plant closures go away. But for those community leaders and economic development planners in impacted communities looking for a path forward, this is a good step in the right direction.
About The Nuclear Decommissioning Collaborative
The Collaborative is the nation’s nuclear decommissioning clearinghouse. As a non-profit, we bring together people and resources to take the mystery out of your decommissioning journey and help foster better project outcomes for all stakeholders.
The Collaborative is currently working under Cooperative Agreement ED18HDQ3030014 from EDA to provide technical assistance to communities facing the closure of a commercial nuclear power plant.