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Do the New Jersey nuclear power plants really need a handout?

N.J. nuclear plants may get $300M bailout renewed. If they do, you’ll keep footing the bill.
nj.com Apr 26, 2021By Amanda Hoover | NJ Advance Media For NJ.com,

The Board of Public Utilities will decide Tuesday if it will continue to award hundreds of millions in subsidies to PSE&G, the operator of New Jersey’s three nuclear power plants.

And if it does, you’ll see the money come out of your pocket — even if you’re not a PSE&G customer.

The question before the board is whether or not the power company needs the money as nuclear plants become increasingly less profitable. Critics and consumer advocates say the company should take the financial hit itself, but PSE&G insists the plants present a situation so dire it will be forced to shutter them without assistance.

This won’t be new money on your bill, but a continued rate hike. PSE&G first won about $300 million in annual subsidies in a controversial 2019 BPU decision. The subsidies are zero emissions credits, known as ZECs for short. They became available under a law signed by Gov. Phil Murphy in 2018 to promote clean energy.

But things have changed, critics say. The coronavirus shutdowns have put many out of work and hampered local businesses. The extra charge tacked on to each bill means more to consumers.

And electric usage is likely up now as many people work and spend more time at home. With more people struggling financially, the estimated $41 a year per customer takes new significance. There’s already a moratorium on energy shutoffs through the end of June to help those who are struggling.

“These are profitable plants, we didn’t think they deserved this handout from the beginning,” said Stefanie Brand, director of the Rate Counsel, the body that advocates for utility customers. “We now have about a million households in this state that are struggling to pay their bills. Their plants may not be as profitable as PSE&G would like, they’re still — as far as we’re concerned — profitable.”

Because the companies are unregulated, much of the financial information is private. That leaves outsiders guessing how much the energy company really needs a handout. The plants include Salem 1 and 2 reactors owned by PSE&G and Exelon, as well as the Hope Creek Nuclear Generating Station owned solely by PSE&G. All are in Lower Alloways Creek in Salem County……..

Keeping the plants in place until 2050 also assumes they will function past their expected lifespan. That means costly repairs that will continue to threaten their profitability…….

PSE&G has spent millions in lobbying and threatened to shutter the plants or neglect repairs without the subsidies…….. https://www.nj.com/business/2021/04/nj-nuclear-plants-may-get-300m-bailout-renewed-if-they-do-youll-keep-footing-the-bill.html

April 27, 2021 - Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA

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