Lawmaker Caucus Seeks to Protect PA’s Nuclear Plants

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The Pennsylvania Nuclear Energy Caucus report outlines ways to save PA's Nuclear Plants.
The Pennsylvania Nuclear Energy Caucus report outlines ways to save PA’s nuclear plants. Is it a bailout or will it lower taxpayers energy bills?

Why save Pennsylvania’s nuclear power plants?

The Pennsylvania Nuclear Energy Caucus released a 42-page nuclear energy report at the end of 2018 detailing how Pennsylvania only has a handful of options left to help avoid the closure of the Three Mile Island and Beaver Valley plants. The report claims that these plants help keep electricity prices low in Pennsylvania, and without them prices for consumers would rise. So what can be done to avoid raising the cost of your energy bills?

What are the options to save Pennsylvania’s nuclear power plants?

In their report, the caucus, a bipartisan group of 80 House and Senate members, suggested three options to save Pennsylvania’s nuclear power plants. The first is to modify the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (AEPS) or establish a Zero Emissions Credit (ZEC) program “to put nuclear generation on equal footing with other zero-emission electric generation resources in Pennsylvania.” This ZEC program would potentially provide payments to nuclear plants to compensate for not emitting greenhouse gases while making electricity.

The second is to modify AEPS with a “safety valve” mechanism that “would allow Pennsylvania to adopt a new capacity construct proposed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) that is designed to accommodate state programs to support preferred generation resources.” This may be the most viable method right now to save the Three Mile Island and Beaver Valley plants, according to caucus Co-Chairman Senator Ryan P. Aument.

The third is to establish a Pennsylvania carbon pricing program. This would mean a price would be placed on the emission of carbon in order to lower the amount of such emissions.

A fourth and final option was also presented; to do nothing and put the nuclear power plants on a trajectory to early retirement. Pennsylvania’s five nuclear facilities provide 40% of the state’s electricity production and over 93% of its zero-emission energy, however, which would need to be taken into consideration when it comes to this particular option.

What opposition do the nuclear power plant bailouts face?

Some critics of the bailouts argue that nuclear power should not be lumped in with clean, renewable energy. Eric Epstein, chairman of TMI Alert, a nuclear watchdog group, stated that “the industry, despite its history of bailouts, wants more subsidies under the guise of a green sheen.” He claims that nuclear fuel is not clean, green, nor renewable, and so shouldn’t be treated as such by bailouts.

The “Citizens Against Nuclear Bailouts” group have also claimed “corporations of an already profitable nuclear industry continue to go door-to-door at state capitols across the country looking to pad their shareholders’ pockets with bailouts from hardworking citizens to increase their own profits.” They claim the power plants don’t need bailouts but are instead simply looking to increase their profit margins even more.

Stay informed and save with PA Energy Ratings!

The caucus will continue to push the state legislature into taking action during 2019, leaving both sides to continue the battle over nuclear subsidies. You can keep up-to-date with matters affecting your electricity rates right here at PA Energy Ratings, and don’t forget you can head over to https://www.paenergyratings.com/electricity-rates to learn more and compare plans in your city right now.

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