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Three Mile Island nuclear station could close anytime soon

Three Mile Island, like much of nuclear industry, is on the brink  Wallace McKelvey |   on April 19, 2017  Nuclear power, which generates more than a third of Pennsylvania’s electricity, could soon disappear from the state amid a glut of cheap natural gas from the Marcellus Shale play.

And the first of the state’s five plants to fall could be Three Mile Island, which could close as soon as 2019.

That’s the argument, at least, that TMI owner Exelon is making as it seeks the Legislature’s help to keep struggling reactors like TMI open. The same argument is being made in other states — Illinois and New York both moved to shore up nuclear plants in the last year.

In turn, the gas lobby and other advocacy groups have ramped up efforts to thwart a bailout of the nuclear industry that they say would lead to electric rate hikes.

Pennsylvania lawmakers from both chambers and both parties formed a “nuclear caucus” with the goal of crafting a proposal to rescue the industry this fall. For their part, caucus leaders say they’re not interested in bailouts or subsidies……

Exelon’s most recent SEC filing described TMI as the facility “at the greatest risk of early retirement due to current economic valuations and other factors….

“We’ve operated for the past six years at a loss,” said Joseph Dominguez, Exelon’s executive vice president of governmental and regulatory affairs and public policy. “We have effectively tried everything we can to weather the storm. I think the question in front of us now is how much longer we’re willing to go.”

For two years in a row, TMI failed to clear PJM’s capacity auction, meaning that it was not able to sell guaranteed power in 2019 and 2020…..

In Illinois, Exelon announced the closure of two of its nuclear power plants but reversed the decision when the governor signed off on a $235 million subsidy … Competitors have since filed lawsuits to block the measure.

Exelon isn’t the only nuclear energy company to consider closing plants in Pennsylvania. FirstEnergy Corp. announced that it would close or sell the Beaver Valley nuclear power station near Pittsburgh within the next year. PSEG, which owns half of Peach Bottom station in York County alongside Exelon, also said it wouldn’t operate nuclear plants that are unprofitable. It has pressed New Jersey for similar subsidies to continue operating its nuclear plants there…..

“Here’s what the U.S. government must do to bring about a gradual phase-out of almost all U.S. nuclear power plants: absolutely nothing,” former Nuclear Regulatory Commission member Peter Bradford wrote in 2013. He cited the “abundance of natural gas, lower energy demand induced by the 2008 recession, increased energy-efficiency measures, nuclear’s rising cost estimates and the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station” in Japan………


April 21, 2017 - Posted by | business and costs, USA

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