The merger between Duke Energy and Progress Energy, finalized last week, created the country’s largest electric utility. It also created a combined company, called Duke Energy, with a total of 12 NRC-licensed nuclear power plant units and license applications with the NRC for six more units.
There have been a number of mergers before and the NRC’s only interest in the business aspects of those mergers is focused on making sure that any merger or acquisition meets NRC regulations for ownership of U.S. nuclear plants, and that there are assurances of the needed funds to ensure safe operations and decommissioning when the time comes.
The NRC’s primary goal is protecting people and the environment through inspection, oversight and enforcement at nuclear plants and other NRC-licensed facilities. Whether it is the Duke-Progress merger or any other business transaction involving nuclear plants, the technical safety aspects of that NRC role does not change.
NRC inspectors will continue to carry out the agency’s detailed inspection procedures at those plants, other NRC staff members will continue to review all the information to ensure each plant is meeting the requirements and regulations, and the NRC enforcement staff will continue to issue violations and monitor follow-up actions if a plant falls short.
With the exceptions mentioned above, the NRC staff has no role in analyzing or reviewing the business aspects of mergers and acquisitions, but people living near any plants involved in a merger can be assured that the NRC focus on safety does not change.Roger Hannah Senior Public Affairs Officer, Region II, Atlanta