Pennsylvania Lawmakers Plan To Save Nuclear Power Plants

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PA legislators launch effort to save nuclear power plants.
A bipartisan coalition seeks to save PA’s Nuclear power plants by adding them to the state’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act.
It could also add to your electric bill.

Are Pennsylvania’s nuclear power plants going to close?

In order to save Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island and Beaver Valley nuclear plants from closure, legislators say they will soon introduce a bill to add nuclear power to the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act (AEPS). The change in the act will bolster the nuclear plants’ profitability versus cheaper natural gas and renewable energy sources.

What is the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act?

A bipartisan group of lawmakers issued a memo stating they will seek to modify the state’s alternative energy requirements to include nuclear power. The Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act, passed in 2004, provides incentives to energy sources with low carbon footprints, such as wind, solar and hydroelectric. It also requires 18% of the state’s electricity come from clean or renewable energy sources.

“It’s time that we finally acknowledge nuclear generation for its considerable zero-carbon energy production by including it in Pennsylvania’s AEPS program,” the memo states. “In so doing, we can ensure that nuclear continues to provide the employment, economic, environmental and grid resilience benefits for years to come.”

The lawmakers claim that Pennsylvania’s five nuclear power plants generate 42% of the state’s electricity and 93% of the state’s zero-carbon electricity. Despite this, nuclear energy is not a part of the AEPS program.

What will happen if the plants close?

Three Mile Island is scheduled to close this September, and Beaver Valley in 2021. “To be clear, this shutdown process is irreversible, thereby guaranteeing the permanent loss of Pennsylvania’s nuclear assets,” the lawmakers said in the memo. The Three Mile Island plant holds a 829-MW reactor, while Beaver Valley operates a 1,872-MW reactor. The memo also warned that the state’s other three nuclear generator plants are “likely not far behind.”

The Nuclear Powers Pennsylvania group agrees with the lawmakers’ proposal. “Allowing any nuclear plant in the Commonwealth to close would have significant consequences for fuel diversity, resiliency, the environment, customers and the state’s economy.”

Meanwhile, Citizens Against Nuclear Bailouts claim that four of the five of the state’s other nuclear plants were profitable last year. They warn the proposal would “burden Pennsylvania consumers with higher electricity bills to fund a nuclear bailout tax, which would benefit already profitable nuclear power corporations.”

No timeline has been given for when the bill may be introduced, nor did lawmakers call the proposal a “bailout.”

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