Entergy still expects to retire Fitzpatrick if it’s not sold to Exelon

Entergy (NYSE:ETR) CEO Leo Denault and other company executives praised the New York State Public Service Commission Aug. 2 for its passage of a nuclear-friendly plan to increase renewable energy to 50% by 2030, calling the measure important to the sale of the Fitzpatrick plant.

The comments were made during a regular quarterly earnings conference call.

Entergy is in negotiations with Exelon (NYSE:EXC) over the sale of it Fitzpatrick plant. “We applaud the New York PSC’s decision to adopt the Clean Energy Program,” Denault said.

The two companies announced in mid-July that Exelon was in talks with Entergy to acquire ownership of the roughly 850-MW boiling water reactor (BWR) in Upstate New York from Entergy. In November 2015, Entergy had announced that it would shut down FitzPatrick in late 2016 or early 2017.

Exelon already operates two nuclear plants in Upstate New York. The carbon reduction credits outlined in the New York policy should help the financially-challenged Fitzpatrick plant stay in business. Meanwhile, Entergy is in trying to reduce the footprint of its non-utility Entergy Wholesale Commodities (EWC) segment and concentrate more on its regulated utilities.

Exelon talks are expected to reach conclusion this month. If it gets sold to Exelon, then there would be a refueling in January. Meanwhile, Entergy official are planning both refueling and shutdown options for FitzPatrick.

Denault does not expect FitzPatrick to stay open if it does not sell. Entergy would need to reach a deal with Exelon on the nuclear plant by the end of the month.

It would subsequently need regulatory approvals with many of the key ones being from within New York. “There are no plans to continue to run the plant under Entergy ownership,” Denault said.

Entergy officials see no signs of a similar clean energy program in Massachusetts targeted toward preserving the clean energy generation from Pilgrim, which has been slated for retirement.

The revised clean energy plan in New York State seems to leave the door open for financial benefits to CO2-free generation from the Indian Point units. Earlier drafts had excluded Indian Point because it was not financially distressed, Entergy officials said.

Nuclear assets will help provide Entergy customers with a buffer against fuel diversity of natural gas generation, Entergy officials said.

Entergy managers also discussed efforts to resolve lingering Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issues resolved at certain plants, such as Arkansas Nuclear One.

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.