The New Orleans company plans to transfer the operating licenses of six nuclear plants that sell power on the open market - FitzPatrick, Indian Point Units 2 and 3, Palisades, Pilgrim and Vermont Yankee - to Enexus, along with the license for the permanently closed Indian Point Unit 1 and the independent spent fuel storage installation at Big Rock Point.
Entergy still needs permission from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and from state regulators in New York and Vermont before it can spin off Enexus Energy. The deal had been expected to take place at the end of the third quarter of 2008, but will likely be delayed by a recent New York court decision lengthening the time for public comment.
"We're evaluating our target completion date," Entergy spokesman Michael Burns said.
Entergy wants to spin off it northeastern nuclear plants to give investors clearer choices on where to put their money. Entergy's nuclear business and its regulated utility business operate under different sets of rules, and separating them makes it easier for shareholders to understand how the companies are performing and gives them the choice of whether to invest in one or both.
The company also hopes that the spin-off will prove lucrative at a time when the nation - and investors - are hungry for more low-cost power sources.
Depending on market conditions, Enexus may issue about $4.5 billion in bonds when the spin-off occurs. About $4 billion of that money could be used to repurchase shares or pay down debt at Entergy and about $500 million could be used to provide working capital for Enexus, according to Burns.
While Enexus Energy will hold the licenses, another company called EquaGen Nuclear LLC - previously Entergy Nuclear Operations - will operate the plants. EquaGen will be jointly owned by Enexus and Entergy.
Entergy will retain ownership of the four regulated nuclear plants that provide power to its regional utility companies: Grand Gulf Nuclear Station in Mississippi, River Bend Nuclear Station and Waterford in Louisiana, and Arkansas Nuclear One, which has two units. Entergy Operations Inc. will continue to run those plants.