Global Energy News Roundup: March 15

The Forum on Energy weekly news roundup brings together a mix of global energy stories from around the web. It is published every week. Please visit our page on Twitter via @forumonenergy

Trump Administration’s 2020 Budget Proposes Increased Funding for Nuclear Energy

The Trump Administration released its 2020 budget proposal this week which calls for an increase in funding for nuclear energy. A senior Department of Energy official stated on a call that the department is requesting “$2.3 billion to secure energy independence, [and] to fund innovations for more affordable, viable and efficient energy sources, such as new nuclear and fossil energy investments.” The administration remains committed to restoring the nuclear energy industry and hopes that Congress will work to expand the nuclear energy sector by supporting President Trump’s spending request for advanced nuclear technologies. The budget request also includes $157 million of funding for preventing cyber attacks against the US electric grid. The DOE official on the call also said that Energy Secretary Rick Perry believes “that you can’t have national security without energy security, and our energy is only as secure as our grid is…”

Source: The Washington Examiner

Japan Court Rejects Bid to Shutdown Shikoku Electric Nuclear Reactor

A branch of the Yamaguchi District Court in western Japan denied a lawsuit by residents to shut down the number 3 reactor at the Ikata nuclear power plant. It is a 890-megawatt reactor which was restarted on October 27 and is currently running at full capacity. A Hiroshima High Court lifted a 2017 injunction that blocked the operation of the reactors.

Source: Reuters

US Nuclear Power Plant Operators Push for Fewer Inspections

Nuclear plant operators are pushing the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to cut back on its inspections at power plants. Commission staffers are currently considering the industry’s requests as it conducts a review of the agency’s enforcement of regulations that govern the United States’ 98 commercially operating nuclear power plants. Recommendations are due in June 2019. Current Trump appointees on the NRC and many industry representatives believe that changes in oversight regulations are warranted given the industry’s improved safety record and its financial difficulties. The request for fewer inspections was outlined in a letter from the Nuclear Energy Institute that also asks to eliminate press releases about lower-level safety issues at plants, ones that do not constitute an emergency. Greg Halnon, vice president of regulatory affairs for Ohio-based FirstEnergy Corp stated that scaling back announcements of lower-level problems at plants is “more responsible … than to put out a headline on the webpage to the world.”

Source: NBC News