FERC: More time needed to review Vistra/Energy Harbor deal

October 19, 2023, 3:02PMNuclear News

Texas-based Vistra Corporation was hoping to get the go-ahead from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission this month for its proposed acquisition of Energy Harbor’s nuclear assets, but on October 13, the agency issued an order extending its review of the deal (called “tolling the time” in bureaucratese) to April 11, 2024. Currently down one seat, the four-member FERC voted 3–1 for the time extension, with the lone dissent coming from commissioner James Danly.

DOJ voices concerns with Vistra–Energy Harbor deal

August 25, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News
The Beaver Valley nuclear power plant. (Photo: NRC)

The Department Justice earlier this week filed comments with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission regarding Vistra Corporation’s proposed acquisition of Energy Harbor, the Ohio-based owner and operator of the Beaver Valley, Davis-Besse, and Perry nuclear plants. Echoing misgivings raised in June by PJM Interconnection’s market monitor Monitoring Analytics regarding the possible exercise of undue market power as a result of the deal, the DOJ Antitrust Division’s 16-page document urges FERC to carefully review the proposal to ensure it will not substantially lessen competition and increase wholesale electricity prices in the PJM region.

Energy Harbor files for Perry life extension

July 21, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News
The Perry nuclear power plant. (Photo: ANS)

Energy Harbor has filed its initial license renewal application for the Perry nuclear power plant, requesting an additional 20 years of operation for the facility, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced yesterday. Dated July 3, the 2,427-page application is now available on the agency’s website.

Great Lakes hydrogen hub applies for DOE funding

May 9, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News
The Davis-Besse nuclear power plant. (Photo: NRC)

The Great Lakes Clean Hydrogen Hub coalition (GLCH) has submitted an application for funding from the $8 billion Department of Energy program authorized by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to support the creation of regional clean hydrogen hubs, nuclear plant owner/operator Energy Harbor announced on May 2.

Constellation starts hydrogen production at Nine Mile Point

March 10, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News
Constellation’s Nine Mile Point nuclear power plant. (Photo: Constellation Energy)

A nuclear-powered hydrogen production facility has commenced operation at Constellation Energy’s Nine Mile Point plant, the company announced this week. The facility is the first of its kind in the United States to generate hydrogen using nuclear power, courtesy of the New York plant’s two boiling water reactors, the 620-MWe Unit 1 and 1,287-MWe Unit 2.

Annual report cards out for U.S. power reactors

March 9, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced last Friday the issuance of 2022 assessment letters to operators of the nation’s commercial nuclear reactors, noting that of the 93 units in the agency’s Reactor Oversight Process, 87 “reached the highest performance category in safety and security,” known as Licensee Response.

Vistra to grow reactor fleet with purchase of Energy Harbor

March 7, 2023, 3:03PMNuclear News
The Beaver Valley nuclear power plant.

Texas-based Vistra Corporation, owner of the Comanche Peak nuclear plant, has announced a $3.43 billion deal to acquire Energy Harbor, the Ohio-based owner and operator of the Beaver Valley, Davis-Besse, and Perry nuclear facilities.

Hydrogen production coming to Prairie Island

September 22, 2022, 6:55AMNuclear News
The Prairie Island nuclear power plant. (Photo: Xcel Energy)

Clean energy technology firm Bloom Energy has announced plans to install a 240-kW electrolyzer at Xcel Energy’s Prairie Island plant in Red Wing, Minn., to demonstrate the benefits of producing hydrogen with nuclear power. (One of Xcel’s two nuclear plants, Prairie Island houses twin 550-MWe pressurized water reactors.)

Scrutiny of Waterford unit ratcheted up

September 15, 2022, 12:01PMNuclear News
Entergy’s Waterford nuclear plant, in Killona, La. (Photo: Entergy)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is increasing its oversight of the Waterford Steam Electric Station’s Unit 3 reactor due to a decade-long miscalibration of a radiation monitor.

In a September 13 letter to Entergy Operations, the NRC classified the issue at the Killona, La., facility as a “white finding”—agency parlance for a problem of low to moderate safety significance. (The NRC’s Reactor Oversight Process uses color-coded inspection findings and indicators to measure plant performance, starting at green and increasing to white, yellow, and red, commensurate with the safety significance of the issues involved.)

Energy Harbor pledges to become carbon-free energy producer by 2023

April 6, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News
Energy Harbor’s Perry nuclear power plant, in Perry, Ohio. The company says its nuclear units are “critical infrastructure required for the U.S. clean energy transition.”

Energy Harbor—owner and operator of the Beaver Valley, Davis-Besse, and Perry nuclear power plants—recently announced its plan to become a carbon-free energy infrastructure and supply firm in 2023. Energy Harbor is based in Akron, Ohio.

NRC reactor assessments: All but two units in top performance category

March 15, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission offered an overall reassuring message last week regarding the performance of the nation’s commercial reactors in 2021.

“The work of the nuclear power plant operators for almost every reactor fully meets our stringent safety and security performance objectives,” said Andrea Veil, director of the NRC’s Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation. “Yet even those high-performing units will undergo thousands of inspection hours this year under our normal ‘baseline’ inspection program.”

Looking back at 2021—Nuclear News January through March

January 7, 2022, 10:35AMNuclear News

This is the second of five articles to be posted today to look back at the top news stories of 2021 for the nuclear community. The full article, "Looking back at 2021,"was published in the January 2022 issue of Nuclear News.

Quite a year was 2021. In the following stories, we have compiled what we feel are the past year’s top news stories from the January-March time frame—please enjoy this recap from a busy year in the nuclear community.

  • Click here to see the first article in the series.

NRC launches special inspection at Davis-Besse

July 29, 2021, 6:59AMNuclear News
The Davis-Besse nuclear power plant. (Photo: Nuclear Regulatory Commission)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Tuesday announced that it has begun a special inspection at Energy Harbor’s Davis-Besse nuclear plant. The inspection will focus on two separate issues: multiple diesel generator failures during testing and maintenance, and a complicated reactor trip on July 8.

FirstEnergy charged with fraud, agrees to $230 million fine

July 23, 2021, 7:12AMNuclear News
Davis-Besse nuclear power station, which is operated by EnergyHarbor. (Photo: U.S. NRC)

Akron, Ohio-based FirstEnergy Corporation has been charged with wire fraud and will pay a $230 million monetary penalty over its role in a $61-million corruption and racketeering scheme to secure state subsidies for Ohio’s nuclear power plants, Davis-Besse and Perry.

Ohio bill repealing nuclear subsidies signed by governor

March 31, 2021, 12:03PMNuclear News

The final nail in the coffin of Ohio’s nuclear subsidies occurred on March 31 when Gov. Mike DeWine signed H.B. 128, a bill passed unanimously by the state’s Senate last Thursday.

Approved 86-7 by the Ohio House on March 10, H.B. 128 strips the nuclear subsidy provisions from H.B. 6, the controversial and, since last July, scandal-scarred piece of legislation signed into law in 2019 to aid Ohio’s economically challenged nuclear facilities, Davis-Besse and Perry.

H.B. 128 also removes the earlier bill’s “decoupling” provision, which would have been of substantial financial benefit to FirstEnergy Corporation, the former parent company of Energy Harbor, owner and operator of Davis-Besse and Perry. The new bill retains H.B. 6’s subsidies for utility-scale solar projects, however, and for two coal plants (one in Ohio, one in Indiana).

H.B. 128 was sponsored by Reps. James Hoops (R., 81st Dist.) and Dick Stein (R., 57th Dist.).

Ohio House passes bill to remove state aid to nuclear plants

March 16, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News

The Ohio House of Representatives has voted to rescind the nuclear subsidy provisions of H.B. 6, the controversial 2019 piece of legislation that has been marinating in scandal since last July. Just one week earlier, a similar measure was passed unanimously in the Ohio Senate.

Approved by a tally of 86-7 on March 10, H.B. 128 strips H.B. 6 of subsidies for Energy Harbor’s Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear plants, as well as a “decoupling” provision that would have been of substantial financial benefit to FirstEnergy Corporation, the former parent company of Energy Harbor. The new bill retains H.B. 6’s subsidies for utility-scale solar projects, however, and for two coal plants (one in Ohio, one in Indiana).

H.B. 128 was sponsored by Reps. James Hoops (R., Dist. 81) and Dick Stein (R., Dist. 57).

Ohio Senate votes to repeal nuclear plant subsidies

March 5, 2021, 6:59AMNuclear News

After months of unsuccessful efforts by Ohio lawmakers to contend with the fallout from H.B. 6—the now-infamous nuclear subsidies bill signed into law in 2019—the state’s senate on March 3 passed a measure, S.B. 44, to repeal those subsidies. The vote was 32–0.

For those who may need reminding, federal prosecutors on July 21, 2020, arrested Larry Householder, then speaker of the Ohio House, and four lobbyists and political consultants for their involvement in an alleged $61 million corruption and racketeering scheme aimed at guaranteeing passage of H.B. 6, whose subsidies had kept Ohio’s Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear power plants from premature closure.

H.B. 6 established a seven-year program to charge the state’s electricity consumers fees to support payments of about $150 million annually to the plants’ operator, Energy Harbor Corporation, then known as FirstEnergy Solutions (FES). FES had announced in March 2018 that it would be forced to close Davis-Besse and Perry without some form of support from the state. (The payments to Energy Harbor were blocked last December by an Ohio Supreme Court injunction, which complemented an earlier lower court ruling.)

Energy Harbor may decline Ohio plant subsidies

February 9, 2021, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The Associated Press is reporting that Energy Harbor (formerly FirstEnergy Solutions), owner of the Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear plants, may decline the subsidies provided for those facilities by HB6—the scandal-tainted Ohio bill that was signed into law in 2019. (In late December of last year, the Ohio Supreme Court issued a temporary stay to stop collection of the HB6-mandated fee from Ohio ratepayers that was set to begin January 1.)