- Holtec International announced an agreement on Tuesday to acquire Entergy's Indian Point nuclear power plant units for expedited decommissioning.
- Entergy will sell Units 1, 2 and 3 to a Holtec subsidiary, transferring licenses, spent fuel, decommissioning liabilities and nuclear decommissioning trusts for the units. Unit 1 was retired in 1974 while Unit 2 and Unit 3, totaling about 2 GW, are scheduled to retire in April, 2020 and April, 2021, respectively, according to Entergy's agreement with New York state.
- Holtec announced its intentions in August to buy Entergy's Pilgrim power plant in Massachusetts and the Michigan-based Palisades nuclear plant, as well as Exelon's Oyster Creek plant in New Jersey, shut down last September. In each case, the deals will will require approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), along with state agencies.
The sale of Indian Point to a decommissioning firm marks the beginning of the end for the nuclear plant — the only one in New York not to receive subsidies under the state's Zero Emission Credit program.
"The sale of Indian Point to Holtec is expected to result in the completion of decommissioning decades sooner than if the site were to remain under Entergy's ownership," Leo Denault, Entergy CEO and chairman, said in a statement.
The NRC is still reviewing the license transfer applications for Pilgrim and Exelon's Oyster Creek. The regulators had not yet received any formal application regarding Indian Point and Palisades, the latter of which is set to be retired in 2022.
Entergy has not announced the value of the nominal cash considerations it would receive for Indian Point or any of its other nuclear decommissioning transfers.
However, another spent nuclear fuel specialist, NorthStar Group Services, took over Entergy's closed Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in October. In that case, the NRC required "some additional financial guarantees" beyond the plant's nearly half a billion dollars in its decommissioning trust fund, according to NRC spokesperson Neil Sheehan.
"The potential for the site to be released decades sooner for redevelopment could deliver significant benefits to local community stakeholders and the local economy," Dr. Kris Singh, president and CEO of Holtec, said in a statement.
The decision for Entergy to shut down its merchant nuclear generation early comes amid several other recent nuclear plant closures.
"The plant owners have found it difficult to deal with the financial realities of low costs of natural gas, subsidies to other forms of power and other factors," Sheehan told Utility Dive.
Situated near the Hudson River in Buchanan, New York, Indian Point's two operating units power New York City and the surrounding county.
The Department of Energy is otherwise obligated to remove the waste to a permanent storage site, though selecting one has proved to be a drawn out process in Congress.
Until the DOE acts or the waste can be sent to Holtec, the company plans to transfer the spent nuclear fuel to dry cask onsite storage, which will be under guard, monitored during the shutdown and decommissioning activities.
"Certainly the plant owners are interested in some sort of solution to what to do with the spent nuclear fuel. Right now it's all stored on-site or in spent nuclear fuel pools," Sheehan said.
At this point, there's no movement on a permanent nuclear waste repository in Yucca Mountain, Nevada.
"We have told Congress that we need additional funding to carry out the mandated hearing on the application and thus far we have not received that," Sheehan said.
Two interim storage facilities for nuclear waste are currently seeking regulator approval to begin their intake of used fuel. One of them is Holtec's proposed facility in New Mexico, HI-STORE Consolidated Interim Storage (CIS).
"Whether or not the model where they would be able to not only dismantle the plant in the near term and then ship the fuel offsite, there's no way to say at this point," Sheehan said, as the NRC review process for interim storage is "fairly early on."