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Jeffrey Tomich 12, energy and environment reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 4/25/12, “Small nuclear reactors generate hype, questions about cost,” http://www.stltoday.com/business/local/small-nuclear-reactors-generate-hype-questions-about-cost/article_39757dba-8e5c-11e1-9883-001a4bcf6878.html#ixzz1tTlcQ1Jt

The Obama administration, which is pushing for development of low-carbon energy technologies, sees potential, too. And the president wants the United States to take the lead in developing the industry.

Last month, Obama proposed $452 million to help speed up development of small modular reactors. The funding availability would come on top of $8 billion in loan guarantees for the Vogtle twin-reactor nuclear project in Georgia.

The federal funding, which has yet to be appropriated by Congress, would support engineering, design certification and licensing of up to two plant designs that have the potential to be licensed and in commercial operation in a decade.

The administration hasn’t announced the recipients of the DOE grants or begun handing them out precisely because of the link to politics

Gabriel Nelson 9-24, E&E Reporter, and Hannah Northey, 9/24/12, “DOE funding for small reactors languishes as parties clash on debt,” http://www.eenews.net/public/Greenwire/2012/09/24/3

DOE received four bids before the May 21 deadline from veteran reactor designers Westinghouse Electric Co. and Babcock & Wilcox Co., as well as relative newcomers Holtec International Inc. and NuScale Power LLC. Now the summer has ended with no announcement from DOE, even though the agency said it would name the winners two months ago.

As the self-imposed deadline passed, companies started hearing murmurs that a decision could come in September, or perhaps at the end of the year. To observers within the industry, it seems that election-year calculations may have sidelined the contest.

"The rumors are a'flying," said Paul Genoa, director of policy development at the Nuclear Energy Institute, in an interview last week. "All we can imagine is that this is now caught up in politics, and the campaign has to decide whether these things are good for them to announce, and how."

Small modular reactors do not seem to be lacking in political support. The nuclear lobby has historically courted both Democrats and Republicans and still sees itself as being in a strong position with key appropriators on both sides of the aisle.

Likewise, top energy officials in the Obama administration have hailed the promise of the new reactors, and they haven't shown any signs of a change of heart. DOE spokeswoman Jen Stutsman said last week that the department is still reviewing applications, but she did not say when a decision will be made.

"This is an important multiyear research and development effort, and we want to make sure we take the time during the review process to get the decision right," she wrote in an email.

That the grants haven't been given out during a taut campaign season, even as President Obama announces agency actions ranging from trade cases to creating new national monuments to make the case for his re-election, may be a sign that the reactors are ensnared in a broader feud over energy spending.

Grant recipients would develop reactor designs with an eye toward eventually turning those into pilot projects -- and the loan guarantees that these first-of-a-kind nuclear plants are using today to get financing would be blocked under the "No More Solyndras" bill that passed the House last week (Greenwire, Sept. 14).

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