NRC grants Duke control of Progress nuclear station licenses

Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved the transfer of indirect control of Progress Energy’s nuclear power plants to include Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK) as the ultimate parent corporation on the licenses for these facilities. 

The action was pursued as part of the proposed merger of the two energy companies

According to the application, Progress Energy’s two business units -- Progress Energy Carolinas and Progress Energy Florida -- will continue to have the responsibilities associated with owning and operating their nuclear stations. 

The indirect license transfers also won’t affect the financial qualifications, decommissioning funding assurance, or technical qualifications associated with the stations. No physical changes will be made to the facilities and there will be no changes in day-to-day operations, the application stated. 

Progress Energy Carolinas operates units 1 and 2 at Brunswick Steam Electric Plant, Southport, N.C.; Shearon Harris Nuclear Power plant unit 1, New Hill, N.C.; and H.B. Robinson Steam Electric Plant unit 2, Hartsville, S.C. 

Progress Energy Florida operates Crystal River Nuclear Generating Plant unit 3, Crystal River, Fla. 

Duke Energy operates McGuire Nuclear Station units 1 and 2, Huntersville, N.C.; Catawba Nuclear Station units 1 and 2, York County, S.C.; and Oconee Nuclear Station units 1, 2 and 3, Oconee County, S.C. 

The 12 combined nuclear generators have a capacity of roughly 9,500 MW, or about 16.6 percent of the merged company’s total electricity capacity of 57,200 MW. 

Eleven of the 12 units have obtained 20-year license extensions. Crystal River’s license is due to expire in 2016 and an application for renewal was filed with the NRC in 2008 and is under review. 

When the merger is complete, the new Duke Energy will operate the largest regulated nuclear fleet in the country. To date, the companies have submitted the following merger-related applications, in addition to the NRC filing: 

• North Carolina Utilities Commission, which held hearings in September
• Public Service Commission of South Carolina, which has scheduled hearings on the proposed joint-dispatch agreement for the Carolinas Dec. 12
• Kentucky Public Service Commission, which has approved the merger
• Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which has conditionally approved the merger
• Hart-Scott-Rodino filing with the U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission
• Assignment of Authorization filings with the Federal Communications Commission, which were approved July 27 

The companies are working toward a merger close date of Jan 1, 2012, but the final closing date will ultimately be determined by the regulatory approvals schedule.

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