Exelon and Constellation prepare for separation

12 January 2022

The two companies that will emerge from the approaching separation of Exelon Generation's regulated utility and competitive energy businesses have set out their respective plans at separate analyst events this week. Exelon will become the USA's largest transmission and distribution (T&D) utility serving some 10 million customers across seven different regulatory jurisdictions. Constellation will be the largest producer of carbon-free electricity in the country.

Constellation's incoming CEO addresses analysts at the company's online event

"No other company is better positioned to accelerate our nation's rapid transition to a carbon-free
energy future, and that will be the primary focus of our strategy going forward," Joseph Dominguez, incoming CEO of Constellation, said, adding that the company is taking a national leadership role by providing carbon-free energy solutions and a long-term foundation for stable, equitable economic and environmental progress. "We're well on the way to having nuclear recognised as a clean energy resource financially," he said.

Dominguez set out a future vision of "clean energy centres" deploying nuclear capacity to support hydrogen, data centres and direct air capture of greenhouse gases in addition to on-grid electricity supply. "In the fulness of time, we see nuclear serving all of these purposes," he said.

The nuclear, hydro, wind and solar generation capacity making up Constellation's fleet provides 10% of all clean power on the US grid, and the company has set its own climate goal of achieving 95% carbon-free electricity by 2030 and 100% by 2040.

The company's commitments to reaching carbon-free energy goals include plans to apply for licence extensions for all of its plants to enable them to reach operating lives of up to 80 years, subject to policy and market support, Chief Generation Officer Bryan Hanson said. The company has set out a timeline of expected licence extension projects starting this year with the Clinton (for a first licence renewal) and Nine Mile Point plants, followed next year by Dresden and Ginna, with Fitzpatrick and Calvert Cliffs in 2026, Quad Cities in 2027, La Salle and Limerick in 2030 and Byron, Braidwood and Clinton (for a subsequent licence renewal) in 2034. The cost for a licence renewal is in the region of USD30-40 million, he noted.

The company also has the opportunity to add over 200 MWe to its nuclear capacity through measurement uncertainty recapture power uprates and turbine upgrades, and intends to apply to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission to do this.

Construction of a Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) electrolyser at the Nine Mile Point nuclear power plant in New York State as part of a hydrogen production demonstration project, with US Department of Energy funding is already underway. The PEM is on target for completion this year year, and clean hydrogen production is expected to begin by December, Hanson said. The unit will supply hydrogen for the plant's turbine cooling and chemistry control. The company also hopes to use excess hydrogen from the PEM to demonstrate long-duration storage with peak power generation, he added.

Exelon outlines utility plans

Exelon's management set out its strategic plans as the USA's largest utility company with more than 10 million customers at six regulated electric and gas utilities. The T&D utility will have no owned generation supply.

"Our mission at Exelon is to continue to be the premier transmission and distribution utility company by providing reliable, safe, clean, affordable and innovative energy products to our more than 10 million customers," Exelon President and CEO Christopher Crane said.

"Following separation, Exelon will maintain focus on our core business strategies, while driving economic development and investment in our communities and innovating to lead clean energy grid transformations. We are confident that following this separation, Exelon will continue to be a strong parent company for our fully regulated transmission and distribution utilities and is well positioned to invest in critical infrastructure and innovative technologies to stay ahead of our rapidly evolving industry, improve reliability and resilience, enhance safety and the customer experience, and transition to a cleaner energy future."

The separation is expected to close on 1 February.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News