The lawsuit has been filed in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

The lawsuit urges the court to direct the Department of Energy (DOE) to suspend collection of one-tenth of a cent per kilowatt-hour surcharge that consumers pay on their monthly electric bills pending DOE’s compliance with provisions of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982. The legislation requires DOE to conduct an annual fee adequacy review for the used fuel management program.

NEI argued in a letter sent to Secretary of Energy Steven Chu last July that DOE has failed to properly account for the effect of the planned termination of the Yucca Mountain repository project on the program’s financial needs, and that collection of the fee should be suspended until a used nuclear fuel management program is defined and properly evaluated.

Mr Chu declined to suspend the fee, which amounts to approximately $750m in annual revenues for the fund, in a letter sent to NEI last October.

NEI is joined in the litigation by Florida Power & Light; NextEra Energy Seabrook; NextEra Energy Duane Arnold; NextEra Energy Point Beach; Omaha Public Power District; PSEG Nuclear; Indiana Michigan Power; Energy Northwest; PPL Susquehanna; The Detroit Edison; Nebraska Public Power District; Northern States Power; Kansas Gas and Electric; Kansas City Power & Light; Kansas Electric Power Cooperative; and Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating.

The Nuclear Waste Fund has a balance of more than $24bn; however the administration’s budget request for fiscal 2011 does not include any funding for the used nuclear fuel management program.

Under law, electric companies that operate America’s 104 reactors have contracts with the DOE for used reactor fuel management. Under the terms of the contracts, DOE was to begin moving used reactor fuel from nuclear energy facilities beginning in 1998.