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Ratepayers, Gas industry, Environment groups fighting against Pennsylvania Nuclear Bailout Bill

Pennsylvania Nuclear Bailout Bill Draws Fire From Ratepayer, Natural Gas and Enviro Groups

The latest state policy effort to support nuclear power faces opposition on costs, market impacts and lack of clean energy guarantees. Greentech Media, 

But the long-awaited proposal is facing pushback from ratepayer advocates, natural-gas producers and environmental groups that say it’s a flawed approach…….

Opponents, including the AARP and other consumer advocates, have rallied against the bill, claiming it would add more costs than its sponsors have recognized by unnecessarily subsidizing the state’s still-profitable nuclear plants — a move that the state’s natural gas industry and energy analysts say will undermine the state’s competitive electricity market.

Environmental groups are opposed to a bill that lacks broader efforts to increase the state’s share of clean energy….

critics of the Pennsylvania bill, which was leaked in draft form two weeks ago, say that its flaws outweigh its potential benefits. An independent economic analysis of the bill found it could increase ratepayer costs by as much as $900 million per year, or roughly $5 per month for a typical household bill, compared to the author’s projections, raising the ire of ratepayer advocates.

Opponents have also questioned the wisdom of relenting to pressure from Exelon, owner of the Three Mile Island reactor, and FirstEnergy, owner of the Beaver Valley Nuclear Power Station, which have both announced plans to close the plants by 2021. While the Three Mile Island plant is losing money, Beaver Valley is still profitable. But parent company FirstEnergy Solutions, which filed for bankruptcy protection last year, has threatened to close the plant, along with money-losing coal and nuclear plants in Ohio, absent some form of state intervention.

At the same time, the bill could also extend financial support to the three nuclear power plants that have no plans to close and are projected to remain profitable through 2021, a feature that’s drawn criticism from ratepayer groups that call it an unnecessary subsidy.

Meanwhile, Pennsylvania’s significant natural-gas industry opposes the bill on the grounds that it would increase the share of the state’s energy subject to out-of-market subsidies from its current 18 percent-by-2021 goal, to more than half of the state’s total generation mix — a move they say could undermine its participation in the energy markets of mid-Atlantic grid operator PJM.

Finally, the bill’s impacts may not be enough to save the money-losing Three Mile Island plant, according to  a November report by PJM’s independent marketing monitor. Stu Bresler, PJM’s senior vice president of operations and markets, told The Inquirer that the bill will likely result in “upward pressure” on some market prices, but that these pressures may not be enough to save any particular unprofitable power plant from closure.


March 14, 2019 - Posted by | politics, USA

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