Three Mile Island joins list of nukes taking early retirement - Smart Energy Decisions

Power Prices, Utilities  -  May 30, 2017 - By Amy Poszywak

Three Mile Island to shutter in 2019, Exelon says

The owner of the Three Mile Island nuclear plant — the site of the 1979 nuclear accident considered to be the worst in U.S. history — on May 30 announced plans to close the Pennsylvania power plant in 2019 after years of unprofitability. 

Exelon Corp. cited significant declines in the plant's revenues amid the sustained downturn in wholesale power prices; a lack of state or federal policies to support nuclear energy; and the high operations costs associated with keeping just one reactor running at the site as contributing reasons for its decision to retire the plant early. In the week prior, Three Mile Island failed to secure capacity payments for future output in the PJM Interconnection LLC auction for the third year in a row, Exelon said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Exelon, the largest owner of nuclear generation in the country, also cited a "lack of meaningful progress on market design changes that would recognize the full value of [Three Mile Island] and return it to profitability," as rationale for closing the plant. At the same time, President and CEO Chris Crane appeared to urge state leaders toward such progress.

"Like New York and Illinois before it, the Commonwealth has an opportunity to take a leadership role by implementing a policy solution to preserve its nuclear energy facilities and the clean, reliable energy and good-paying jobs they provide," Crane said in a news release announcing the company's decision. "We are committed to working with all stakeholders to secure Pennsylvania's energy future, and will do all we can to support the community, the employees and their families during this difficult period." 

The news from Exelon Corp. follows similar stories from generators around the country as nuclear power plants struggle for profitability as increasing amounts of low-cost natural gas, wind and solar power are added to the U.S. grid. In Ohio, discussions rage on over the fate of two challenged FirstEnergy Corp. plants; and at least five nuclear power plants have closed in the past five years, according to the U.S. EIA.

In its news release, Exelon outlined a list of policy options it said could help preserve the state's nuclear generation:
Despite producing 93 percent of the Commonwealth’s emissions-free electricity and avoiding 37 million tons of carbon emissions — the equivalent of keeping 10 million cars off the road every year — nuclear power is not included in the state’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (AEPS). Yet 16 clean power sources including solar, wind and hydro energy are supported by this state energy policy. Amending the AEPS is one of many potential solutions to preserve Pennsylvania’s nuclear plants. Other options include establishing a zero emissions credit program, similar to the approach being implemented in Illinois and New York. Exelon is committed to working with its stakeholders to find the best solution for Pennsylvania — one that will maintain nuclear energy's $2 billion annual contribution to the state’s economy and its approximately 16,000 direct and indirect Pennsylvania jobs.
Tags: Exelon

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