NEW YORK (AP) — Something could be missing from your next electric bill: a fee that electric customers have been paying for 31 years to fund a federal nuclear waste site that doesn't exist.
The Energy Department will stop charging the fee by court order on Friday. The amount is only a small percentage of most customers' bills, but it adds up to $750 million a year. The fund now holds $37 billion.
The money was collected to build a long-term disposal site for the highly radioactive nuclear waste generated by the nation's nuclear power plants that is, by law, the federal government's responsibility.
The site was supposed to have opened in 1998, but there is no such site nor even any tangible plans for one.
Don't expect a refund, however. The latest Energy Department strategy, laid out in a report last year, is to have a site designed by 2042 and built by 2048 using the money in the fund.
The fee, a penny for every 10 kilowatt-hours of electricity, is charged to nuclear operators and then passed on to customers, depending on how power is regulated and priced in each state. Based on the average amount of nuclear power produced across the U.S., a typical residential customer pays $2 a year into the fund.
This has long bothered state regulators. The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners began suing the Department of Energy in 2010 to force DOE to stop collecting the fee.
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