Nuclear power company Duke Energy has announced plans for a merger with Cinergy that will see Duke’s utility operations in North and South Carolina combined with Cinergy’s utility operations in Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky to create a new company with more than 5 million customers.

Duke’s coal, gas and nuclear power plants with be combined with the Cinergy portfolio, almost exclusively cheap coal-fired generation.

However, the $9.1 billion deal still requires regulatory approvals and Federal authorities are likely to require Duke Energy to join a regional wholesale power market as a condition.

In other high profile American nuclear power merger, Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG) and Exelon have announced plans to sell off four more thermal power plants in a bid to stave off concerns over their proposed merger. The $12 billion acquisition of Newark-based PSEG by Chicago-based Exelon announced late last year would create the largest utility and the biggest generator in the US.

In a filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the two companies have announced plans to divest 4 GW of capacity, up from 2,900 MW initially proposed, although the merged group will retain its nuclear assets. This figure is in addition to 2,600 MW of “virtual” divestiture of nuclear power sold through long-term contracts which will prevent the group from fixing prices. The move is designed to dampen opposition to the emergent giant on competition grounds.

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