Regulatory approval for US nuclear spinoff

13 April 2015

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has approved the proposed transfer of operating licences for the two Susquehanna nuclear reactors as parent company PPL Corporation prepares to spin off its competitive generation business.

Susquehanna (Image: US NRC/PPL)

Current licensee PPL Susquehanna applied for the indirect transfer of the operating licences in July 2014, following PPL Corporation's announcement of plans to combine its merchant power generation businesses with those of Riverstone Holdings in a new publicly traded corporation, Talen Energy.

After reviewing PPL's application, the NRC has concluded that the transfer will maintain public health and safety while meeting relevant regulations. PPL also noted that the regulator had determined the transfer would not adversely affect the technical or financial qualifications to operate the plant or the assurance of funding for eventual decommissioning of the plant, and would not result in foreign ownership or control.

On completion of the spinoff transaction, PPL Susquehanna will be renamed Susquehanna Nuclear. Only the name of the company holding the plant licenses will change. The owner/operator arrangement will remain unaltered: Susquehanna Nuclear will continue to operate the plant, and it will continue to be jointly owned by Susquehanna Nuclear and Allegheny Electric Cooperative.

Around 45 GWe of the USA's 99 GWe of nuclear capacity are so-called merchant plants, operating in states with deregulated electricity markets. Deregulated markets permit competing suppliers to sell electricity directly to customers. Nuclear operators within deregulated markets face challenges from the short-term nature of the competitive market, coupled with competition from low-cost gas and federally subsidized wind power. Susquehanna's two 1260 MWe boiling water reactors, located near Berwick in Pennsylvania, are the only nuclear capacity involved in the Talen Energy spinoff.

The spinoff transaction has already received approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. PPL expects the transaction to close in the second quarter of 2015 after the completion an antitrust review by the US Department of Justice.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News