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Nuclear Regulatory Commission approves Constellation-Exelon deal

Exelon’s proposed takeover of Constellation Energy crossed another hurdle Thursday when the Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved the $7.9 billion deal.

Constellation’s nuclear division, the Constellation Energy Nuclear Group, is licensed to operate five reactors and two spent fuel installations. The staffs at the plants, including management, will remain essentially unchanged when Exelon takes over, the NRC said. The agency also said public health and safety would not be adversely affected.

Constellation’s nuclear division operates two reactors at Calvert Cliffs in southern Maryland, two at the Nine Mile Point plant in New York and one at the R.E. Ginna plant, also in New York. The NRC said its staff determined that Exelon, which already operates its own fleet of nuclear power plants, meets the agency’s financial and technical requirements.

Maryland regulators are expected to announce on Friday whether they have approved the deal, which also must be approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The deal has already been approved by the Justice Department, shareholders of both companies, and New York and Texas regulators. Regulatory approval was needed in Texas because both companies own plants in the state, and Constellation markets power and gas there.

If the deal goes through, Exelon would indirectly own 50.01 percent of CENG, which is jointly owned by Constellation Energy Group and EDF, Inc., a subsidiary of Electricité de France SA. EDF had initially opposed the deal, but dropped its opposition in January, saying it had reached agreement with Exelon over the independence of CENG.

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s administration had also opposed the deal initially, saying it was not in the public’s interest, but O’Malley relented after the companies increased commitments to renewable energy and assistance to low-income residents.

However, Maryland’s consumer advocate said in a filing earlier this month that it still opposed to the merger despite that settlement. The Maryland Office of People’s Counsel said in a filing with the Maryland Public Service Commission that the two companies have not demonstrated the merger will not harm customers of Baltimore Gas and Electric, a Constellation subsidiary that is regulated by the commission.

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