Pennsylvania Nuclear Power Plant Update / by Norris McDonald

Three Mile Island nuclear plant

Three Mile Island nuclear plant

Chicago-based Exelon Corp., announced in 2017 it that it will close the Three Mile Island nuclear plant unless Pennsylvania comes to its financial rescue. It set September 30 2019 as the closing date.

Ohio-based FirstEnergy Corp. also announced it will shut down its Beaver Valley nuclear power plant in western Pennsylvania — as well as two nuclear plants in Ohio — within three years unless Pennsylvania steps up.

So far, no rescue has been written into legislation.

Supportive lawmakers will introduce legislation to effectively give Pennsylvania's nuclear power plants the same preferential treatment as solar power, wind power and a handful of other niche energy sources received under a 2004 state law.

The owners of Pennsylvania's five nuclear power plants — primarily Exelon, FirstEnergy and Allentown-based Talen Energy — are backing that effort. The Center also supports the legislation.

PJM Interconnection, which operates the electric grid covering Pennsylvania and the 65 million people from Illinois east to Washington, has said those four nuclear power plant closings — two in Pennsylvania and two in Ohio — won't affect the availability of electricity.

But, last summer, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, in a 3-2 decision, ordered PJM to come up with a solution to protect the competitive market from what it described as a dangerous cascade of pressure on states to prop up otherwise viable power plants.

Exelon said Pennsylvania must enact legislation by June 1 if it is to keep operating Three Mile Island, since fuel must be ordered months in advance.

Gov. Tom Wolf hasn't taken a position on rescuing Pennsylvania's nuclear power plants. (Electric Light and Power, 2/19/2019)