Uncle Sam has been nickel-and-diming Americans to pay for a nuclear waste disposal facility that doesn't exist.
But on Friday, after a protracted legal battle between the Department of Energy and power companies, the feds are backing down.
For 30 years, customers who got their energy from nuclear power plants had an extra fee tacked on to their monthly bills, ostensibly to pay for the cost of disposing nuclear waste.
FILE - In this March 16, 2011 file photo, steam escapes from Exelon Corp.'s nuclear plant in Byron, Ill. (AP Photo/Robert Ray, File)
"The fee is tiny -- one mill, or a tenth of a cent, for every kilowatt hour generated by nuclear power," CNN reported. "That amounts to about 15 to 20 cents on the average monthly electric bill, industry officials estimate."
The catch: the feds weren't actually using the money to deal with nuclear waste.
Instead, the feds shelled out roughly $7 billion on the abortive attempt to open a waste facility at Yucca Mountain in Nevada, and after that failed, they sat back and collected the cash.
Now the Nuclear Waste Fund holds about $31 billion, having collected $40 billion since starting in 1982.
The Department of Energy was actually ordered to stop collecting the fees -- which add up to $750 million a year -- back in November, but the lawsuits weren't finally settled until Friday.
The Nuclear Waste Fund will continue to balloon despite the end of the fees -- interest payments will grow the fund by about $1.3 billion annually.
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