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Constellation sells share in joint venture to EDF

ANNAPOLIS — Electricite de France SA and Constellation Energy Group Inc. have agreed to restructure a joint venture to allow the French state-controlled utility to move forward with plans for a third nuclear reactor in Maryland.

Under the deal announced late Tuesday, EDF will acquire Baltimore-based Constellation’s 50 percent ownership in the joint venture known as UniStar for $140 million.

In addition to sites for Calvert Cliffs 3 and a potential fourth reactor in Maryland, Constellation will transfer to UniStar potential new nuclear sites at Nine Mile Point and R.E. Ginna in New York.

Constellation’s sale of its share of UniStar means it will no longer have responsibility for developing or financing the third Maryland reactor.

The agreement also calls for EDF to transfer 3.5 million of the shares it owns in Constellation and to give up its seat on Constellation’s board.

An existing standstill agreement between the two companies will end. Constellation will end its rights under an existing put option and will not sell any of its plants to Paris-based EDF.

The third reactor has the potential to create 4,000 jobs and ease Maryland’s electricity shortage.

Constellation announced  this month it would not move ahead with the proposal over risks linked to the high cost of a $7.5 billion loan guarantee.

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who supports the third reactor, has met with EDF officials about keeping the project alive. He also has spoken with Carol Browner, director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy, about the project.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland said he was pleased with the agreement.

“I know that the governor, senators and Maryland delegation join me in welcoming this development and look forward to working with the parties and the administration to move this project forward,” he said in a written statement.