Takeaways

DOE will be issuing Demonstration Awards of approximately $80 million to two teams seeking to develop, construct, and demonstrate advanced reactors, as well as two to five Risk Reduction awards worth a total of $30 million to other applicants that represent diversity of advanced reactor design.
Advanced reactor developers and other interested parties should consider responding to DOE’s request for information, as DOE will use the information it receives to develop its solicitation for these awards.
DOE has advised applicant teams to immediately begin steps to get federally approved rate agreements in place for this FOA so as not to delay award negotiations.

DOE Request for Information and Notice of Intent for Awards for its Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program

On February 5, 2020, the U.S. Department of Energy issued a Request for Information/Notice of Intent (RFI/NOI), for its new Advanced Reactor Demonstration (ARD) Program, informing parties of DOE’s intent to issue a number of awards related to the ARD Program, and to solicit the required information for DOE to develop the solicitation.

The intent of DOE’s ARD Program is to focus DOE and non-federal resources on achieving the actual construction and real demonstration of multiple advanced reactor designs within the next five to seven years.

DOE explained the RFI/NOI was issued for the following two primary purposes:

  1. alert interested parties of DOE’s intent to solicit competitive applications for two advanced reactor demonstration awards (Demonstration Awards), such that they can begin to assemble teams and responsive applications, establish or verify supply chains, and identify long-lead items that will require immediate action; and
  2. solicit from advanced reactor developers and other interested parties the information required by DOE to inform its aggressive strategy for advanced reactor demonstration and to develop DOE’s solicitation for executing these projects.

Pursuant to the first purpose, the RFI/NOI stated that DOE intends to issue a financial assistance Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for the following two types of awards:

  • Demonstration Awards. Demonstration Projects will be awarded to two teams seeking to develop advanced reactors (defined as any light water or non-light water fission reactor with significant improvements compared to the current generation of operational reactors). The total first year DOE funding for each award will be approximately $80 million, with future year funding dependent on the selected project requirements and future congressional appropriations. These awards will require a cost share of not less than 50 percent from non-federal sources. Proposed Demonstration Projects are intended to be operational within five to seven years of the award.
  • Risk Reduction Awards. Between two and five applicants not selected for one of the two Demonstration Awards and that represent diversity of advanced nuclear reactor designs may be considered for separate Risk Reduction Awards under the FOA. These awards will address technical risks in each applicant’s reactor design. The total value for these awards from DOE will be $30 million for year one. These awards will require a cost share of not less than 20 percent from non-federal sources. These awards should advance technological maturity of the designs to better prepare them for future commercialization.

The RFI/NOI also advised applicant teams to immediately begin steps to get federally approved rate agreements in place for this FOA so as not to delay award negotiations.

Pursuant to the second purpose of soliciting information, the RFI/NOI contains a Questionnaire with twenty-two questions, focused on the solicitation for and execution of the Demonstration and Risk Reduction projects. DOE stated it was seeking input on how advanced reactor demonstrations executed within a cost-shared partnership with DOE and licensed by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) can be structured to ensure the greatest chance of success. The RFI/NOI encouraged all of the following nuclear industry stakeholders to reply with feedback on potential project activities: nuclear industry entities (reactor vendors, fuel manufacturers, utilities and power producers, supply chain vendors, engineering, procurement, construction contractors, etc.) as well as from government organizations, federal contractors, universities, manufacturers, or consortia capable of designing, building, and operating advanced nuclear reactors.

The RFI/NOI stated that replies should provide the information requested in the Questionnaire to help DOE gain a better understanding of industry perspectives on potential industry partnership opportunities, integration strategies, cost or time saving measures, and technology development risks. Finally, the RFI/NOI contains directions for responding to the RFI/NOI, a series of disclaimers, and the twenty-two question Questionnaire.

Pillsbury has one of the legal industry’s largest and most storied Nuclear Energy practices. Our nuclear team is actively following and engaged in a variety of U.S. DOE contracting and reactor development and commercialization issues, and has deep regulatory experience in advanced reactor matters before the U.S. NRC, U.S. DOE, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, and various international regulators. Pillsbury also has deep experience in all aspects of government contract formation and performance and has advised clients at every stage of the government contracting process, from solicitation through final audit. To learn more about our Nuclear Energy team, please click here.