Talen Energy to spearhead Bell Bend nuclear license case

Now that PPL (NYSE:PPL) has spun off its competitive power generation business, the newly-formed Talen Energy (NYSE:TLN) will take over the licensing case for the proposed Bell Bend nuclear plant in Pennsylvania.

“Talen Energy is continuing with the Bell Bend licensing process started by PPL,” said George Lewis, a spokesperson who moved from PPL to Talen with the spinoff.

“Given where we currently stand, a decision on the Bell Bend project remains several years in the future,” and will depend on factors such as power market economics and Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) certification of the proposed advanced reactor design for the project, Lewis added.

The NRC conducted public meetings on the Bell Bend Draft Environmental Impact Statement earlier this month, and Talen expects to have the final EIS in early 2016. “We have asked the NRC to suspend work on the safety evaluation for Bell Bend, which could not be completed until AREVA received design certification for the U.S. EPR [Evolutionary Power Reactor], which it has suspended,” the spokesperson said.

PPL first filed the combined construction and operating license (COL) application with NRC in October of 2008. But the nation’s big economic recession, along with the production boom in domestic natural gas from shale, quickly altered the prospects for new nuclear plant investment.

The PPL application called for developing the new nuclear facility at a site adjacent to the existing Susquehanna nuclear plant in Luzerne County, Pa.

With the June 1 birth of the new independent power producer, Talen Energy is the licensee for the Susquehanna plant.

As the successor to PPL at Susquehanna, the ownership arrangement remains the same: Talen Energy owns 90% of the plant’s capacity, 10% of the capacity is still owned by Allegheny Electric Cooperative.

“Nothing else changes in the management of the plant,” said the Talen spokesperson. “We have the same chief nuclear officer and site vice president,” the Talen spokesman said. “The same people who have operated, maintained and protected the plant before the spinoff are still in place,” he added.

Talen Energy was formed when the competitive power generation business of PPL was spun off and combined with the competitive generation business owned by private equity firm Riverstone Holdings LLC. With the completion of the transaction, PPL shareholders own 65% of Talen Energy’s common stock; affiliates of Riverstone own 35%.

The Talen website is located at https://www.talenenergy.com/

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.