The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has scheduled a public meeting to discuss PPL Susquehanna’s intent to transfer ownership of the nuclear power plant near Berwick to a newly formed company.
PPL Susquehanna and Riverstone Holdings, LLC, have announced a definitive agreement to combine their merchant power generation businesses into a new stand-alone, publicly listed Independent Power Producer that, following closing, will be called Talen Energy Corporation, according to a meeting announcement from the NRC.
The purpose of the meeting is to discuss PPL Susquehanna’s plans and schedule regarding a future submittal of a license transfer license amendment request.
The meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. to noon July 2 at NRC offices, One White Flint North, O-4B06, 11555 Rockville Pike, Rockville, Maryland. Members of the public can participate over the phone by teleconference. For information on how to do so, call John Lamb at 301-415-3100 or email John.Lamb@nrc.gov.
Neil Sheehan, public affairs officer for the NRC’s Region 1, said in an email that an application to transfer an operating license must be reviewed by the NRC before the ownership of a U.S. nuclear power plant can change.
The NRC will carefully evaluate a number of areas, including the prospective new owner’s technical and financial qualifications to operate the plant. More specifically, the NRC would seek to ensure that the prospective new owner has the technical capabilities and financial wherewithal to safely run the plant and to safely decommission it when the time comes to do so, Sheehan said.
If the proposed owner is an “electric utility” as defined in the NRC’s regulations, no further review of financial qualifications for operations is generally required, Sheehan said.
However, if the proposed owner is not an “electric utility,” the NRC evaluates revenue sources and projected five-year operating costs with respect to the plant to determine whether the proposed owner has reasonable assurance of obtaining the funds necessary to operate the plant safely, he said.
The NRC reviews funding plans for eventual decommissioning of the plant under the provisions of federal code.
When doing so, the NRC determines whether the proposed owner has demonstrated “reasonable assurance” of obtaining decommissioning funds and whether the proposed owner is rate-regulated or has access to a non-by passable “wires” charge.
Non-by passable wires charges are charges that electricity customers must pay for the transmission and distribution of electric power, no matter what the source of generation, and that many states have imposed as a part of their deregulation initiatives.
This arrangement allows licensees to accumulate decommissioning funds in external trust accounts over the remaining term of the license.
If the proposed owner would not have access to those funds, it must ensure the entire amount of NRC-defined decommissioning costs, using another method allowed under NRC regulations.