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Only the taxpayer can save this Ohio nuclear power station

BEAVER VALLEY NUCLEAR PLANT FUTURE HINGES ON SUBSIDIES, Beloit Daily News March 07, 2017  By ANYA LITVAK, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette   PITTSBURGH (AP) — One way or another, come next year, FirstEnergy Corp. is getting rid of the Beaver Valley nuclear power station.

Either the Ohio-based company will shut down the 1,800-megawatt plant, two decades ahead of schedule, or it will sell it to another operator. The latter option is a nonstarter unless something — aka someone, aka legislators in Pennsylvania and Ohio — intervenes to give nuclear energy a boost.

The Beaver County nuclear plant and two others in Ohio share the same chopping block as about a dozen fossil fuel plants in FirstEnergy’s portfolio across several states where electricity generation is not directly supported by ratepayers.

But getting legislation that would recognize — monetarily — nuclear energy’s lack of carbon emissions is FirstEnergy’s top priority, according to the firm’s CEO Chuck Jones, even though FirstEnergy won’t stick around to operate the plants either way.

“I don’t think there’s any guarantee, absent some other support for these units, that they’re going to keep running far into the future,” he told analysts during a call last month. Without something to “make them attractive to a buyer, there’s only one way for us to exit this business,” he said.

That something isn’t ambiguous.

In Ohio, it will be legislation seeking to create a program where customers would pay a surcharge to fund zero-emission credits given to nuclear plants. A similar mechanism supports the purchase of renewable energy in Pennsylvania and in Ohio, although the Buckeye State’s program had been frozen for the past two years and some in the state Legislature are attempting to neuter its mandates by making them penalty-free goals instead.

Jones expects an Ohio bill in support of nuclear energy to be introduced soon and said he’s optimistic, “given the discussions we’ve had so far,” that it will pass.

In Pennsylvania, Exelon is taking the lead. The Chicago-based operator of three of the state’s five nuclear power stations has been emboldened by recent victories in Illinois and New York, where it credited the 11th-hour approval of zero-emission credits with saving several plants from early retirement.

This year, Exelon added a significant number of Harrisburg lobbyists to its roster……..

If New York is any indication, Beaver Valley might serve as a sweetener for Pennsylvania lawmakers to act quickly.

When New York was mulling a nuclear credit program, Exelon said it would buy the FitzPatrick nuclear plant from Entergy Corp. — which planned to shut it down — if emission credits were approved………..

In October, five Pennsylvania legislators — most of whose districts include nuclear power plants — formed the nuclear energy caucus. They announced it with a Tweet, posed in front of a banner that read, “Pennsylvania’s nuclear plants support more than 15,600 jobs.”

The caucus, which includes Jim Marshall, R-Beaver County, and Robert Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, plans to make a formal announcement of its existence later this month to be followed by a discussion of a new report on how states can save nuclear power plants, commissioned by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Matzie and Marshall did not return calls for comment.http://www.beloitdailynews.com/article/20170307/AP/303

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March 8, 2017 - Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA

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