United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment
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License Transfers & Mergers

The electric power industry continues to undergo significant changes as a result of changes to the economic and regulatory environment in which they operate. One of the changes has been an increase in the number of requests for transfers of NRC licenses or mergers of corporations.

In general, license transfers involve changes in ownership of facilities at a corporate level but do not involve any changes to plant operations or significant changes in personnel of consequence to the continued reasonable assurance of public health and safety.

Definition of a License Transfer or Merger

Transfer requests include (1) indirect transfers, such as the establishment of a holding company over an existing licensee; (2) direct transfers, such as transfer of an ownership interest held by a non-operating minority owner; and (3) the complete transfer of the ownership and operating authority of a single or majority owner.

Generally, license transfers do not involve the type of technical issues that would impact operation. Plant personnel, procedures, and policies typically are not part of a license transfer or merger.

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Related Regulations

To learn more about requirements governing transfers, see the following regulations:

  • 10 CFR Part 2, Subpart M (e.g., 10 CFR 2.1301) - Public Notification, Availability of Documents and Records, Hearing Requests and Procedures for Hearings on License Transfer Applications
  • 10 CFR 50.33 - Contents of applications, general information
  • 10 CFR 50.40 - Common standards for issuing a license
  • 10 CFR 50.80 - General guidance for transfer of licenses
  • 10 CFR 50.90 - General guidance for amendment of license or construction permit if a license amendment request is involved
  • 10 CFR Part 51 - Environmental Protection Regulations for Domestic Licensing and Related Regulatory Functions.
  • 10 CFR 50.140 - Financial Protection Requirements and Indemnity Agreements

NRC's regulation (10 CFR 50.80(a)) requires that a license granted by the NRC shall not be transferred, assigned, or in any manner disposed of, either voluntarily or involuntarily, directly or indirectly, through transfer of control of the license to any person unless the Commission gives its consent in writing. Therefore, typical staff review of such applications, characterized as requests for restructuring and organizational change, largely consists of ensuring that the ultimately licensed entity has the capability to meet the financial qualification and decommission funding aspects of the NRC regulations. For this reason, the NRC has determined that requests for hearings on applications for license transfers should be handled by a separate subpart of the regulations (Subpart M of 10 CFR Part 2) that provides an efficient and appropriate informal process for handling hearing requests associated with transfer applications commensurate with the nature of the issues involved.

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Regulatory Process for Approving License Transfer or Merger Requests

Licensee requests for transfers or mergers are handled similarly to those for power uprates.

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NRC's regulation (10 CFR 2.1303) requires that the following documents pertaining to each license transfer be posted at the NRC Web site.

  • The license transfer request and any associated requests
  • Commission correspondence with the applicant or licenses related to the application
  • Federal Register notices
  • The NRC staff Safety Evaluation Report
  • Any NRC staff order affecting the license transfer application
  • The hearing record and decision if a hearing is held

A list of active license transfer reviews can be found in our Notice of Ownership Change Table.

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Public Involvement

The NRC considers public involvement in our activities to be a cornerstone of strong, fair regulation of the nuclear industry. The public is invited to comment on proposed regulations in addition to observing or participating in certain workshops and meetings. See our Public Involvement pages for more information.

To learn about meetings concerning various nuclear reactor plants, see our About Meetings Open to the Public pages.

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Page Last Reviewed/Updated Monday, January 13, 2014