U.S. NRC Blog

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When A Plant Changes Hands

Neil Sheehan
Public Affairs Officer
Region I

FitzPatrickTowerViewIn February, Entergy announced plans to permanently shut down the James A. FitzPatrick nuclear power plant on Jan. 27, 2017. However, there are indications – based on recent negotiations between Entergy and Exelon – that the facility may not cease operations after all.

On Aug. 9, Exelon announced it had reached a deal to purchase the Scriba (Oswego County), N.Y., boiling-water reactor from Entergy for $110 million. This agreement occurred after the New York State Public Service Commission approved Zero Emission Credits, or subsidies, which will help upstate N.Y. nuclear plants stay online amid historically low energy prices.

Challenging market conditions had earlier prompted Entergy to announce the plant’s closure. The NRC in 2008 had approved a renewal of FitzPatrick’s initial 40-year operating license, extending it until October 2034.

Before the sale of the plant can be completed, the transaction will undergo reviews by the NRC, as well as other regulatory agencies. NRC staff will evaluate Exelon’s technical and financial capabilities to ensure the plant’s safe operation and to provide reasonable assurance that adequate funding is available to safely decommission the unit after the final shutdown has occurred.

Exelon currently owns and operates 22 reactors at 13 plant sites in the U.S. The company also runs Fort Calhoun under a contract with the Omaha Public Power District.

We will publish on our website and in the Federal Register a notice of having received the license transfer application, dated August. 18, and the opportunity to request a hearing on the proposal. As for the process itself, such reviews generally take from six months to a year. For example, when the FitzPatrick operating license was transferred from the New York Power Authority to Entergy in 2000, the review was completed in about half a year.

As a footnote, Exelon already owns the Nine Mile Point nuclear power plant, which is located next-door to FitzPatrick.

11 responses to “When A Plant Changes Hands

  1. darrywebb August 29, 2016 at 8:29 am

    Nice article thank you

  2. elmernorris August 25, 2016 at 8:35 am

    “nice article thank you”

  3. drgenenelson August 24, 2016 at 1:25 pm

    This blog post summarizes what happens when a nuclear power plant changes ownership. This could be very relevant to PG&E’s DCPP.as Exelon Nuclear is protecting its nuclear plants from challenges that are supported by fossil-fuel interests – unlike PG&E’s apparent “hands off” approach. 😦

    Note: Verbiage removed to adhere to blog comment guidelines. After all, “Franchise Protection” makes business sense! For a historical anti-nuclear power action, please search by title for Rod Adams’s 2010 investigative article, “Smoking Gun Part 18 – An Oldie But a Goodie – Oil Heat Institute of Long Island Ad Using Scare Tactics to Fight Shoreham” BTW, OHILI today touts “Clean Oil Heat” which is only true in a very narrow sense when compared to residential coal heating. However, combustion of any fossil fuel contributes to anthropogenic global warming.

  4. Anonymous August 23, 2016 at 5:10 pm

    Wow – Nuke for Sale $ 110 M, looks like a lemon to me!! I am sure, staff will approve the transfer in a jiffy – one utility to another, what strange bed fellows (Exelon has its own list of nukes to shut down). Staff should think hard and not play a typical regulatory role –compliance with 10 CFR 50.80, but should probe into what is coming down the pike and find out what is the motivation here??

    Is this is going to be fate of rest of the 100 nukes in the continental U.S.

    • Marc Paff August 24, 2016 at 10:26 am

      Here’s a list of nuclear power plant sales in the US over the past decades. http://www.nei.org/Knowledge-Center/Nuclear-Statistics/US-Nuclear-Power-Plants/US-Nuclear-Plant-Sales $110 million seems pretty reasonable for a plant with only 18 years left on its 60 year license. Fitzpatrick and the larger Indian Point 3 (which is also in more lucrative NYC electricity market) were sold to Entergy for a combined $636 million back in November 2000. So let’s say Fitzpatrick was 40% of that combined price and that Fitzpatrick now only has 53% of its remaining license years left in 2016 versus 2000, that would give me an estimated value for Fitzpatrick of $134 million, which is in the ballpark of the reported $110 million sale price Exelon is willing to pay.

      So why do you think $110 million is indicative of Fitzpatrick being lemon?

  5. steamshovel2002 August 23, 2016 at 12:27 pm

    What has their reactor power been averaging since the last scram? Some 75% for weeks on end and 45% percent for the last two days. Even the Hoover Dam and Grand Coulee Dam couldn’t survive with those numbers. We are talking about technological regression here folks across the board.

  6. steamshovel2002 August 23, 2016 at 10:04 am

    Fitzpatrick has been starved for maintenance and upkeep for many years. Is Exelon just going to nurse this plant along for years in this condition? Fitzs needs a massive rehab lasting a year or more at shutdown.
    This should be a condition of the NRC for the license transfer…

  7. Nikohl Vandel August 23, 2016 at 8:37 am

    To support this industry with the old technology in these power plants seems so 70s. Please do something about that whenever you can. Shut these old plants down.

    • Marc Paff August 23, 2016 at 10:29 am

      You do realize that nuclear power plants, like any other power plant, buildings, airplanes, etc, are continuously maintained and upgraded. Many of Fitzpatrick’s original components from the 70s surely have been replaced/repaired repeatedly over the decades.

      Talking of “old” power plants, Hoover Dam and Grand Coulee Dam and many other of our largest hydroelectric power plants are from the 1930s and 1940s. I’m sure they too do proper maintenance and such, yet I don’t see paranoid people calling for them to be shut down because they are “old”.

      • Nikohl Vandel August 23, 2016 at 11:56 am

        And they don’t store nuclear waste either, hence the no problem for ancient designs with upgrades. Sometimes the Model Ts need to be closed and new models are what a safe society needs.

      • Marc Paff August 23, 2016 at 4:23 pm

        @Nikohl Vandel: The age of a NPP shouldn’t have any impact on safety of dry cask storage of used nuclear fuel. Why would dry cask storage at an old NPP like Fitzpatrick be less safe than at a newer NPP?

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