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Pennsylvania politicians push for subsidies for nuclear power

Nuclear energy caucus forms in challenging times, The Times Tribune, 26 Mar 17 HARRISBURG — A group of state lawmakers formed the Nuclear Energy Caucus last week as part of an effort to keep nuclear power part of Pennsylvania’s mix of energy sources. Sen. John Yudichak, D-14, Plymouth Twp., ranking Democrat on the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, is a member of this caucus……..

Pennsylvania has five nuclear plants, making it the second largest state with nuclear capacity, the caucus said.The goal of the caucus is to develop policies that promote nuclear energy as part of Pennsylvania’s energy mix…..

Industry struggling  Sen. Ryan Aument, R-36, Lancaster, points out that the nuclear industry nationwide is struggling.

Five nuclear plants have ceased production since 2013 while an additional seven plants have announced plans to close by 2019, said Aument. Given Pennsylvania’s status as a top nuclear power producer, it’s important the caucus promotes the use of nuclear energy, he added.

The caucus arrives at a time when the nuclear industry’s economic problems are an issue in neighboring New York and Ohio. Some nuclear plants have experienced problems selling their electricity on the market at a price that covers the costs of generating it. Competition from cheaper natural gas is a key factor.

New York has approved a surcharge on customers’ electric bills to provide a subsidy to help keep its nuclear plants open. Supporters say the subsidy recognizes that nuclear energy is a renewable power source and doesn’t produce carbon emissions. The subsidy is being challenged in state courts.

Ohio is considering legislation where customers would pay a surcharge to underwrite zero-carbon emissions credits given to nuclear plants.

The nuclear industry shouldn’t get a bailout from ratepayers, said activist Eric Epstein, chairman of Three Mile Island Alert.

‘Cannot compete’

“It’s become clear the nuclear industry cannot compete in the market,” he said. “It’s environmental attributes are negligible.”

The storage of high-level radioactive wastes is a major problem with nuclear plants, added Epstein.

Nuclear plant owners recouped investment costs after Pennsylvania enacted an electric deregulation law in 1999, he said.

The new caucus hasn’t discussed any legislation, let alone a subsidy or tax credits for nuclear plants, said Yudichak.


March 27, 2017 - Posted by | politics, USA

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