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The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has approved the transfer of the licences for three operating nuclear power plants and their associated used fuel storage facilities from Energy Harbor Nuclear Corporation to Vistra Operations Company LLC.

Beaver Valley (Image: Energy Harbor)

In March, Irving, Texas-based Vistra Corporation announced that it had executed a definitive agreement with Energy Harbor Corporation under which Energy Harbor will merge with and into a newly-formed subsidiary of Vistra. The transaction will combine Energy Harbor's nuclear and retail businesses with Vistra's nuclear and retail businesses and Vistra Zero renewables and storage projects under a newly-formed subsidiary holding company, referred to as Vistra Vision.

Energy Harbor currently operates the two-unit Beaver Valley nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania, as well as the single-unit Davis-Besse and Perry plants in Ohio. Vistra operates the Comanche Peak plant and its used fuel storage facilities in Texas.

The NRC, following a review of the licence transfer application, has now concluded that Vistra is financially and technically qualified to conduct the activities authorised by the licences. The NRC staff also concluded that Vistra satisfies the NRC's decommissioning funding assurance requirements, and that the facilities are not owned, controlled, or dominated by a foreign entity.

"This is an important step in the acquisition process and is evidence of Vistra's strong technical and financial qualifications, as we have demonstrated over the past 30+ years with our Comanche Peak nuclear power plant," said Vistra president and CEO Jim Burke. "We are excited about this opportunity to invest in nuclear power, which plays a critical and unique role in our nation's responsible energy transition as a baseload, carbon-free source of power."

Vistra said the NRC's "thorough and timely" review of the licence transfer application brings the transaction closer to completion. To finalise the acquisition, Vistra awaits a decision from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on its request for approval of the transaction.

Vistra continues to target closing the transaction before the end of the year.

At closing of the transaction, Energy Harbor will merge with and into a subsidiary of Vistra, thereby becoming a wholly owned subsidiary of Vistra Vision. Total compensation will consist of USD3 billion cash and a 15% equity interest in Vistra Vision. In addition, Vistra Vision will assume about USD430 million of net debt from Energy Harbor in the transaction. Vistra will not acquire Energy Harbor's legacy conventional generation fleet, which Energy Harbor has agreed to sell to third parties.

The combination of Energy Harbor's and Vistra's nuclear assets will create "the second-largest competitive nuclear fleet in the country with four nuclear plants totaling more than 6400 MW," Vistra said. "This fleet provides critical, zero-carbon baseload generation that produces enough electricity to power 3.2 million US homes."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News

Date: Tuesday, 03 October 2023
Original article: world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/US-regulator-approves-transfer-of-licences