Exelon's corporate partner seeks to slow down spinoff train

A French utility conglomerate is proving an impediment to Exelon's desire for quick approval of plans to separate its nukes from its regulated utilities.

STEVE DANIELS  -- Crain’s Chicago -- June 09, 2021 01:02 PM UPDATED 3 HOURS AGONT

 
Exelon’s petition to New York state to fast-track review of its proposed spinoff of its nuclear plants and other unregulated businesses has run into opposition from its own corporate partner.

French utility conglomerate EDF, which co-owns three of Exelon’s nukes including two in New York, yesterday filed with state regulators to reject Exelon’s request to approve the separation of its regulated and unregulated businesses without undergoing a normally required full-blown review. EDF said it feared that a nuclear power business without the backing of Exelon’s more financially stable regulated utilities could subject it to unforeseen costs.

 “The proposed spin transaction would result in a transfer of risks to EDF Inc. and to New York’s captive ratepayers,” EDF wrote in its filing before the New York Public Service Commission. “(Exelon’s) petition does not adequately address this transfer of risks. As such, the commission should conduct a full review of the proposed spin transaction.”

Most of the regulatory approvals Exelon needs to separate its two main businesses are at the federal level. New York is the only state of several affected, including Illinois, that also has oversight over this process and whose consent is required. New York’s agreement to curtail review is critical to Exelon’s hoped-for timing of the spinoff, which is late this year or early next.

Details thus far have been scant, however. Exelon in February announced plans to separate the businesses, something investors were clamoring for since regulated utilities are valued far more highly in today’s environment than are power plants subject to market forces. More than three months later, we still don’t know the management and boards of the two companies, how much debt each will carry and other basic information.

EDF wrote that the public interest demands a full-blown review “given that (Exelon) propose(s) an unformed entity of indeterminate financial condition to be the new parent owner of the facilities. The petitioners argue that (Exelon Generation’s) 'financial wherewithal and strength will continue to be strong operating as a direct subsidiary of a new, independent, publicly traded holding company post-transaction,' but they base this almost exclusively on their own projections regarding ExGen’s condition and not that of the yet-to-be-created (spinoff).”

EDF’s motives are complicated, though. It is seeking to exit the partnership in which it holds a 49.99 percent interest in Exelon’s R.E. Ginna and Nine Mile Point nukes in New York, as well as the Calvert Cliffs nuke in Maryland. The two parties are at odds over the valuation of the three nukes, and the process has been slow since EDF sought to cash out in late 2019.

The partnership gives EDF the right to exit and be paid market value for its stake. But if the two sides can’t agree, under the deal, then the dispute goes to an arbitrator. Neither Exelon nor EDF have been willing thus far to roll the dice with a third party.

EDF can use the threat of delay to put pressure on Exelon to increase what it’s willing to pay the conglomerate to go away.

 “We continue to believe that our petition to separate the New York nuclear plants from Exelon meets the New York Public Service Commission’s standard of being in the public interest and we hope to achieve approval by the end of the year,” Exelon said in an email. “At the same time, we are following a contractual process to acquire EDF’s stake in the plants that is expected to conclude in the second half of 2021. The transaction with EDF is a separate matter and should have no bearing on the Commission’s consideration of our plan to separate the generation business.”

EDF in its filing said there’s no guarantee of an agreement with Exelon this year.

New York has been faced with a similar request before. New Orleans-based Entergy proposed more than a decade ago to spin off its substantial nuclear division, which included plants in New York. The state denied the request, scotching the deal.

Since then, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has won approval of substantial subsidies to keep open several nukes, including three operated by Exelon. Analysts generally have taken the view that a repeat of the Entergy drama isn’t likely with Exelon’s spinoff.

But, as regulators have proved many times before in complex financial dealings involving energy assets, they are a wild card. EDF’s move may demonstrate there’s more risk in New York to Exelon’s plans than investors previously appreciated.

STATEMENT ON ILLINOIS LEGISLATIVE INACTION

 ON ENERGY LEGISLATION

June 1, 2021

Tick…tick…tick…

Everything in its own time.  Or so the old saying goes.  The Illinois Legislature demonstrated that old maxim once again by failing to vote before the end of Spring session on a critical piece of energy legislation designed to create Illinois’ energy future.

The Planet has its own schedule, too.  The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) frantically warned in October 2018 that we humans have at best 10 years left – until 2028 – to totally revamp our energy and economic systems, or risk an irreversible climate crisis that could threaten the very functioning of civilization as we have come to know it.  In this regard it’s important to recall another old maxim:  Nature bats last.

Like the grasshoppers in Aesop’s Fable, we, the Governor, and the Legislature ignore this imminent peril, and instead, content ourselves to “Count the victories,” as House Speaker Chris Welch, D-Hillside, advised yesterday as the clock stroked midnight.  Well, looks like it will now be easier to get to-go cocktails.  Come 2019 and beyond, we will need them, and much more.

In its neglect the Legislature once again failed to act to expand renewable energy and energy efficiency; close down dirty energy plants; protect communities and workers adversely affected by nuclear and coal plant closures; expand job and business equity and just-transitions in communities adversely affected by dirty energy; and most urgently -- address the climate crisis.

Perhaps almost as important, the Governor and the Legislature failed to act to end Exelon’s “Nuclear Hostage Crisis” business model consisting of threatening plant closures and jobs and tax-base loss if they don’t get ratepayer subsidized bailouts to prop up money-losing nuclear plants (and the corporate bottom line).  In other circles making threats to extract financial concessions is less-delicately known as – extortion.

While it appears at least for the moment ratepayers will not be turned into Exelon’s personal ATM through another nuclear bailout, unconfirmed reports tell that Governor Pritzker and his negotiators are still willing to play Exelon’s “Nuclear Hostage Crisis” game, reportedly offering as much as $600 million over 5 years to keep open three (it USED to be only 2) money-losing nuclear plants.  Earlier, the State commissioned an independent audit that determined that Exelon’s two financial dogs only needed ~$70 million per year for 5 years at most, maybe less if energy prices improved.  But – why let facts get in the way?

Such a bailout would ostensibly save the 1,200+ jobs at the Dresden and Byron nuclear plants – at a cost to ratepayers of ~$500,000 per job. (or is it – per vote?) Theoretically, that’s progress.  The 2016 bailout “saved” nuclear plants jobs at the tune of ~$1.5 million per job.

Beyond the immediate failure to launch a desperately needed energy future, it is also important to note that whatever energy legislation would have or still will be passed, many significant nuclear power issues remain unaddressed or totally ignored:  more nuclear waste production; totally absent fiscal oversight of reactor decommissioning funds; maintaining safe operations during future pandemics; the implications of the creation of Exelon’s “SpinCo” corporation consisting of (still money-losing) nuclear reactors. 

At the federal level, regulators at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) are contemplating allowing plants to operate for up to 100 years – begging the question that, if these reactors are not profitable now and need bailing out, will this Nuclear Hostage Crisis go on for the next 40-50 years of plant operations, as the reactors age and expensive safety-related repairs are needed?  Who will be asked to pay for these? SpinCo with a gaggle of nuclear LLCs?  (guess again!).

And the Biden Administration is also making plans to allocate as much as $200 BILLION over the next ten years for nuclear power, much of it to create a “zero-emissions credit” (ZECs) fund to bailout out money-losing, uncompetitive nuclear power plants nationwide.  Will Exelon refund any current bailouts if this plan is adopted?

There will be energy legislation.  There must be.  When it is finally taken up, we sincerely hope that these significant issues are at the forefront of detailed, transparent, and public-involving discussion. 

We have a nuclear rhino in the living room, and can no longer dance around her. Stop paying off the nuclear hostage takers. No more nuclear bailouts.  If we want a truly clean-energy future, then build one - NOW.  We won’t get one by bailing out the past.  If we fail to do this, we’ll need a lot more than cocktails to-go.

 
 

--

David A. Kraft, Director
3411 W. Diversey #13
Chicago, IL  60647
(773)342-7650
SKYPE address:  davekhamburg
NEIS is a member of EarthShare Illinois
 
No more Chornobyls!  No more Fukushimas!
Invest  in a nuclear-free world -- today!
SUBJECT: BRAIDWOOD STATION, UNITS 1 AND 2; BYRON STATION, UNIT NOS. 1
AND 2; CALVERT CLIFFS NUCLEAR POWER PLANT, UNITS 1 AND 2;
CLINTON POWER STATION, UNIT NO. 1; DRESDEN NUCLEAR POWER
STATION, UNITS 1, 2, AND 3; JAMES A. FITZPATRICK NUCLEAR POWER
PLANT; LASALLE COUNTY STATION, UNITS 1 AND 2; LIMERICK
GENERATING STATION, UNITS 1 AND 2; NINE MILE POINT NUCLEAR
STATION, UNITS 1 AND 2; PEACH BOTTOM ATOMIC POWER STATION,
UNITS 1, 2, AND 3; QUAD CITIES NUCLEAR POWER STATION, UNITS 1
AND 2; R. E. GINNA NUCLEAR POWER PLANT; SALEM NUCLEAR
GENERATING STATION, UNIT NOS. 1 AND 2; THREE MILE ISLAND
NUCLEAR STATION, UNIT 1; ZION NUCLEAR POWER STATION, UNITS 1
AND 2; AND THE ASSOCIATED INDEPENDENT SPENT FUEL STORAGE
INSTALLATIONS – EXTENSION OF COMMENT PERIOD FOR NOTICE OF
CONSIDERATION OF APPROVAL OF TRANSFER OF LICENSES AND
CONFORMING AMENDMENTS AND OPPORTUNITY TO REQUEST A
HEARING (EPID L-2021-LLM-0000)
 
ADAMS Accession No.: ML21145A014
 
Subject:  2021/05/24 NRR E-mail Capture - Exelon Generation Company, LLC - Request for Additional Information Regarding License Transfer Application (EPID L-2021-LLM-0000)
 
ADAMS Accession No.:  ML21144A213'
 
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Operations Center
 
EVENT REPORTS FOR
05/17/2021 - 05/18/2021
 
 
Power Reactor
Event Number: 55261
Facility: Peach Bottom
Region: 1     State: PA
Unit: [2] [] []
RX Type: [2] GE-4,[3] GE-4
NRC Notified By: Brett Henry
HQ OPS Officer: Brian Lin
Notification Date: 05/17/2021
Notification Time: 13:12 [ET]
Event Date: 05/17/2021
Event Time: 12:38 [EDT]
Last Update Date: 05/17/2021
Emergency Class: Unusual Event
10 CFR Section:
50.72(a) (1) (i) - Emergency Declared
Person (Organization):
GREIVES, JONATHAN (R1)
LEW, DAVE (R1 RA)
MILLER, CHRIS (NRR EO)
GRANT, JEFFERY (IR)
CASTELVETER, DAVID (PAO)
Unit
SCRAM Code
RX Crit
Initial PWR
Initial RX Mode
Current PWR
Current RX Mode
2
N
Y
40
Power Operation
40
Power Operation
Event Text
UNUSUAL EVENT DUE TO A FIRE ALARM INSIDE THE DRYWELL

[Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station declared an unusual event due to a] "receipt of a single fire alarm in the Unit 2 drywell and the existence of the fire not verified in less than 30 minutes of alarm receipt."

The NRC Resident Inspector and State and Local Authorities were notified.

Notified DHS SWO, FEMA Operations Center, CISA Central, FEMA NWC (email), DHS Nuclear SSA (email), and FEMA NRCC SASC (email).

* * * UPDATE ON 5/17/21 AT 1423 EDT FROM BRETT HENRY TO HOWIE CROUCH * * *
At 1355 EDT, the licensee terminated the notification of unusual event. The basis for termination was that the smoke has dissipated and there were no signs of fire.

The licensee notified State and Local Authorities and the NRC Resident Inspector.

Notified R1DO (Grieves), NRR EO (Miller), and IRD MOC (Grant). Notified DHS SWO, FEMA Operations Center, CISA Central, FEMA NWC (email), DHS Nuclear SSA (email), FEMA NRCC THD (email) and FEMA NRCC SASC (email).
Subject:  Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station, Units 2 and 3 - Acceptance Ventilation Filter Testing LAR (EPID: L-2021-LLA-0078)
 
ADAMS Accession No. ML21134A015
 
NRC Public Workshop - Technical Basis for Guidance on Conducting and Evaluating Surveys of Residual Radioactivity in the Subsurface Soils of Licensee Sites
 
On July 14-15, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is holding a public workshop on the technical basis for guidance on conducting and evaluating surveys of residual radioactivity in the subsurface soils of licensee sites. The NRC began to address this problem in NUREG/CR 7021, “A Subsurface Decision Model for Supporting Environmental Compliance,” issued January 2012.
 
Workshop Format:
This will be a virtual-only meeting and attendance will be via Microsoft Teams (links to be provided at a later date). Detailed webinar information and other meeting details will be posted to the public meeting notice website: https://www.nrc.gov/pmns/mtg?do=details&Code=20210553
 
Workshop Agenda:
The agenda is still being developed. The current plan is to have a mix of pre-recorded presentations and open discussions. Parties interested in presenting should contact the NRC meeting organizers.
 
Workshop Topics:
The purpose of this workshop is to gather information on the subject areas below.  Discussion topics to be covered during this workshop may include:

 

1.    Subsurface radiological surveys ranging from historical site assessments, scoping, characterization, remedial action, confirmatory, and final status surveys.

2.    DCGLs for contaminants in the subsurface and use of multiple DCGLs for surface and/or subsurface layers. Evaluating elevated areas or hot spots (DCGLEMC) for potential doses to receptors including the inadvertent intruder.

3.    Evaluation of sites with geospatial and statistical methods.

·Statistical methods and geospatial modeling tools and software to analyze contaminant distributions and optimize sampling and scanning of the sub-surface.

·Methods to determine the sample density, spatial distributions, depths, and volume to achieve a level of confidence and limit decision errors.

·Applicability of MARSSIM statistical tests and other alternative methods.

  • Treatment of uncertainty and data sufficiency.
  • Applicability of “composite sampling” or surrogate ratios.
4.  Applicability of Scenario B for subsurface residual radioactivity and demonstrating indistinguishability from background.
5.  Methods to survey large subsurface soil excavations and survey of soils for reuse in large excavations including use of conveyor belts and other methods.
 
The executive summary to a draft Technical Letter Report by SC&A (see link below) outlines some key issues related to sub-surface characterization and surveys for decommissioning, and in some cases suggests approaches to resolving those concerns. Attendees are strongly encouraged to have read or be familiar with the nomenclature and procedures of the MARSSIM document, as analogous terminology and many of the same concepts may be useful for subsurface surveys as well. This is already reflected in the discussion topics listed above, in NUREG/CR 7021, and the SC&A executive summary.
 
Key References:
  • NUREG/CR 7021, “A Subsurface Decision Model for Supporting Environmental Compliance,” issued January 2012. 
Workshop Contacts:

Mark Fuhrmann, mark.fuhrmann@nrc.gov & Tom Aird, thomas.aird@nrc.gov

 
Thank you.
 
 
Anne Fream
Administrative Assistant
Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards
Division of Decommissionning, Uranium Recovery,
  and Waste Programs
301-415-0645
 
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, May 11, 2021
Contact: Jessica Woolford, 202-557-8037
 
 
SCHUMER, GILLIBRAND, JONES, MALONEY, BOWMAN SEEK CLARIFICATION ON HOLTEC’S PLANS TO ENSURE TRANSPARENCY AND ENGAGEMENT WITH FEDERAL, STATE, AND LOCAL STAKEHOLDERS THROUGHOUT INDIAN POINT DECOMMISSIONING PROCESS
 
Ahead of PSC Decision, the Bicameral Group of Lawmakers Wrote to Holtec in Continued Advocacy for Transparency, Jobs, and Community Input for Path Forward
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. --- U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, Representatives Mondaire Jones, Sean Patrick Maloney and Jamaal Bowman wrote a letter to Holtec International requesting the company’s plans to hold public meetings with local Hudson Valley stakeholders. The lawmakers outlined a series of questions they requested answers to, in the hopes of ensuring transparency and good-faith engagement over the course of the Indian Point decommissioning process.
 
“As the federal elected representatives for the Indian Point Energy Center (Indian Point) and the surrounding communities, we have a strong interest in providing oversight of the decommissioning process and the transfer of Indian Point’s Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) license from Entergy Corporation to Holtec International. Given that Indian Point is the first nuclear power plant in New York to officially retire as of April 30th, 2021, it is critical that over the course of the decommissioning process there is a clear precedent set for full transparency and good-faith engagement with federal, state, local officials and stakeholders in the Lower Hudson Valley,” wrote the lawmakers.
 
“While we applaud the effort of these entities to ensure the people of New York are protected as the decommissioning of Indian Point moves forward, we remain concerned about the lack of public hearings and the approved exemption requests, among other outstanding issues. In order to assist in our understanding of Holtec’s decommissioning plans for Indian Point and to clarify the proposed settlement agreement,” continued the lawmakers.
 
The bicameral group of lawmakers previously wrote to the new NRC chairman calling on him to ensure that the Hudson Valley community would have their voices heard during the Indian Point ownership transfer. 
 
Read the text of the letter here and below.
 
Dear Dr. Singh:
 
As the federal elected representatives for the Indian Point Energy Center (Indian Point) and the surrounding communities, we have a strong interest in providing oversight of the decommissioning process and the transfer of Indian Point’s Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) license from Entergy Corporation to Holtec International. Given that Indian Point is the first nuclear power plant in New York to officially retire as of April 30th, 2021, it is critical that over the course of the decommissioning process there is a clear precedent set for full transparency and good-faith engagement with federal, state, local officials and stakeholders in the Lower Hudson Valley.
 
It is our understanding that, as currently written, within 10 business days of the New York State (NYS) Public Service Commission's (PSC) issuance of the proposed settlement agreement, the NYS Office of the Attorney General, Riverkeeper, and jointly, the Local Entities shall each submit a stipulation of dismissal of their respective petitions for review of the NRC decisions approving license transfer and regulatory exemptions, and denying the petitions for intervention and requests for hearing. While we applaud the effort of these entities to ensure the people of New York are protected as the decommissioning of Indian Point moves forward, we remain concerned about the lack of public hearings and the approved exemption requests, among other outstanding issues. In order to assist in our understanding of Holtec’s decommissioning plans for Indian Point and to clarify the proposed settlement agreement, we are requesting answers to the following questions by May 24, 2021:
 
  • In the proposed settlement agreement there is currently no mention of Holtecholding a public meetings with the community. What is Holtec’s plan for regular community engagement with the public regarding decommissioning activities occurring at the site?
a)       Will Holtec commit to holding at least one public meeting with the community in 2021?
b)       If yes, how will that information be communicated to the public?
 
  • Will Holtec commit to providing federal representatives with the agreed upon written monthly progress reports in addition to state and local officials? (see agreement page 18)[1]
 
  • Holtec has agreed to provide job opportunities for over 300 of Entergy’s current employees and honor the collective bargaining agreements currently in place. For future hires, does Holtec commit to hiring locally and expanding collective bargaining agreements to cover new employees?
 
  • We understand that following Partial Site Release Holtec has agreed to commit $25,000 annually to emergency management response until the fiscal year in which License Termination occurs. What factors contributed to the agreed upon sum? 
a)       How will you provide emergency planning to the neighboring counties which are left out of the Emergency Response Plan agreement (Putnam, Orange, and Dutchess counties)?
 
  • There are a number of environmental and public health concerns surrounding on-site storage of spent fuel and the risks posed.
a)       What are Holtec’s plans to improve the safety of on-site storage in the interim at Indian Point?
b)       How often does Holtec plan to inspect the dry casks and canisters to ensure there is no corrosion, cracking, or aging? 
c)       What is Holtec’s plan to monitor any potential leaks into the groundwater or wells in the surrounding area? Does Holtechave an emergency management plan in place if such a leak were to occur? If so, please include it in your response.
 
  • Within 5 years of license transfer, the proposed settlement agreement states that Holtec agrees to file a complaint against the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for the recovery of all spent fuel management costs incurred after the Transaction Closing Date that are “ascertainable at that time.” Thereafter, under the proposed agreement, “Holtec agrees to seek spent fuel management cost recovery from DOE at recurring intervals not to exceed 5 years.” And, “Holtec agrees to deposit no less than 50 percent of each DOE recovery in a dedicated subaccount within the Decommissioning Trust Fund (DTF).”
 
a)       You have stated that Holtecexpects to recover funds from the DOE through settlement of its claims for the spent fuel management costs incurred as a result of the DOE’s breach of its obligations to dispose of Indian Point’s spent nuclear fuel. However, the NRC also approved an exemption to use the DTF on “spent fuel management.” Given this, how can the public be sure that Holtec will not treat DOE recoveries as corporate profit? 
 
b)       This agreement only contains a 50 percent required commitment that Holtec will reimburse the trust funds with DOE litigation recoveries. How can the public be sure that Holtecwill use the ratepayer-funded DTF for spent fuel management on site and site restoration? 
 
Thank you for your attention to our questions, and we look forward to receiving your prompt reply.
 
                                                                        Sincerely,
 
###

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