Thursday, March 27, 2014

DOE announces extension of Battelle INL operations contract

The U.S. Department of Energy announced today it will be extending Battelle Energy Alliance’s original 10-year contract to operate Idaho National Laboratory an additional five years.

The contract was awarded to BEA in November 2004, and was notable in that it merged the lab operations that had been managed by BWXT Idaho, and before that Lockheed Martin Idaho Technologies, with Argonne National Laboratory-West, which had for decades been run by the University of Chicago. The 10-year INL contract began on Feb. 1, 2005, with the current period of performance scheduled to end this Sept. 30. The extension announced today means BEA will operate INL through Sept. 30, 2019.

In a news release, DOE cited BEA’s "consistently strong annual performance and success" in managing INL, focusing in particular on the creation of the Center for Advanced Energy Studies. BEA partnered with the State of Idaho to establish CAES, which has generated nearly $60 million in competitive research opportunities for Idaho's universities and INL since 2008, the release said.

Now with about 3,500 employees, Battelle's work at INL is in three areas: nuclear energy and technology; energy and the environment; and national and homeland security. Its contract with the DOE allows the federal government to adjust its annual payout based on performance, up to a ceiling of about $18.5 million.

In December, the Associated Press reported BEA had earned 91.4 percent of its available fee during fiscal year 2013, an improvement over 2012, when the company earned about 86 percent. The fiscal year 2012 rating was the company’s lowest in the time it has run the lab.

According to the report, Battelle didn’t get a 100 percent rating for 2013 in part because of deficiencies in worker safety and other operations. On the positive side, DOE reported that INL had several achievements to boast in 2013, including a research discovery advancing scientist's understanding of fuels used in high-temperature, gas-cooled reactors.