Urgent action needed to prevent permanent closure of PA nuclear plants
HARRISBURG – In an effort to prevent the premature and permanent closure of Pennsylvania’s nuclear power plants, Rep. Tom Mehaffie (R-Dauphin) today introduced legislation updating the Pennsylvania Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards (AEPS) Act to recognize nuclear energy for its significant contribution to the state’s zero-carbon energy production.
Even though Pennsylvania’s nuclear power plants generate 42 percent of the Commonwealth’s electricity and provide 93 percent of the Commonwealth’s zero-carbon electricity, nuclear energy has been excluded from Pennsylvania’s AEPS program, which currently recognizes 16 other forms of electricity generation.
Known as the Keep Powering Pennsylvania Act, House Bill 11
would amend Pennsylvania’s AEPS Act to include nuclear energy as a qualifying energy resource under a new Tier III.
The new third tier of AEPS will recognize the value that all zero-emission electric generation resources provide, including carbon-free nuclear energy. As is the case with the existing AEPS law, Tier III will include a structure that requires the purchasing of credits.
“While much discussion will occur in the coming months about costs, the cost of doing nothing is $4.6 billion, including $788 million annually in higher electricity costs to consumers, whereas the cost of this bill is approximately $500 million – that’s an 8-to-1 benefit-to-cost ratio,” Mehaffie said. “I see this situation as a win-win. Without nuclear energy, the typical residential electric bill will increase by $2.39 per month, but with nuclear energy, the typical monthly residential electric bill will only increase $1.77 per month, so the legislature can save Pennsylvania consumers money, keep our nuclear plants open and keep our air clean.”
Exelon Corporation announced plans to shut down Three Mile Island (TMI) by September 2019, and FirstEnergy Corporation said it plans to shut down Beaver Valley Power Station in western Pennsylvania in 2021 if current market flaws are not addressed. The Nuclear Energy Caucus, a bi-cameral and bi-partisan legislative body held hearings throughout 2018 with the key stakeholders to educate legislators about the importance of nuclear energy to the Commonwealth.
“We’ve been working together with industry experts for many months on a comprehensive policy solution that levels the playing field for nuclear power while being mindful of consumers and taxpayers,” Mehaffie said. “The result is legislation, supported by labor groups, business leaders, environmental advocates and workers, that will preserve Pennsylvania’s nuclear energy plants and the clean, reliable energy and good-paying jobs they provide.”
Irreversible preparations for the shutdown process at TMI, however, would begin in June 2019, adding to the urgency for a legislative remedy.
“We can’t wait another day to act on this. The hour glass is running low and peoples’ paychecks and utility bills are at stake,” Mehaffie said. “It’s time we finally acknowledge nuclear energy for its long-term employment, economic, environmental and grid resilience benefits. Let’s Keep Powering Pennsylvania!”
Pennsylvania’s five nuclear power plants account for nearly 16,000 full-time jobs and provide $69 million in net state tax revenues annually.
Representative Thomas Mehaffie
106th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Abbey Haslam