Owner says Three Mile Island plant to shut down in 2019
- Author: Zachary Reyes May 31, 2017,
May 31, 2017, 7:28
The damaged reactor has been mothballed since, but the other reactor is still in use. The owner of the plant's undamaged Unit 1, the nuke-heavy energy company Exelon, announced Tuesday that it will permanently shut down the unit in September 2019.
"Today is a hard day, not just for the 675 talented men and women who have dedicated themselves to operating Three Mile Island safely and reliably every day, but also for their families, the communities and customers who depend on this plant to produce clean energy and support local jobs", Exelon CEO Chris Crane said in a statement.
The closure of three mile island could cost more than a loss of jobs.
Low natural gas prices from abundant shale formations like Pennsylvania's Marcellus have helped keep power prices low for years, making it hard for nuclear reactors to compete with gas-fired generators in deregulated power markets in the U.S. Northeast and Midwest.
One solution the company suggested was amending Pennsylvania's Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard to include nuclear power. But the power may be replaced by electricity generated by carbon-emitting fuels such as coal or gas.
Exelon is hopeful that legislators in Pennsylvania will be able to provide financial incentives to help keep the plant open.
In March 1979, equipment failure and operator errors led to a partial core meltdown of Unit 2, leading to several days of fear and prompting an estimated 144,000 people to flee their homes amid conflicting or ill-informed information from utility and government officials.
"Losing $700,000 is a lot of money, so how we make that up?"
"Investors want them to close the plant", Pourreza said.
A 2013 report from the Institute for Energy and the Environment at Vermont Law School listed Calvert Cliffs was among almost 40 nuclear plants at risk of closing early because of economic or other factors.
The support without subsidy question is rankling area politicians.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has made no commitment to a bailout but said in a statement Tuesday that he is concerned about layoffs at Three Mile Island and open to discussions.
Because of the rapid growth of gas-fired power generation, closing Three Mile Island would have little or no effect on electricity bills, analysts say. Exelon employs 675 people at the plant.
The station pays more than $1 million in state property taxes. It criticized the state's reluctance to subsidize the industry, saying it produces "93 percent of the Commonwealth's emissions-free electricity".
The plant, about 90 miles west of downtown Philadelphia, was at risk of early retirement after failing to win capacity payments last week, Exelon said on May 24. American nuclear generating capacity has remained stable since the 1990s and many reactors, like Three Mile Island, are more than 40 years old.
Three Mile Island's license does not expire until 2034.
The plant near Harrisburg, Pa., hasn't been profitable for the past five years, according to owner Exelon Corp.
Replacing them has proven hard.
TMI is the site of the largest nuclear plant melt down in USA history. Nuclear does have one advantage, though: it is is completely carbon-free. Exelon said that its operating costs for just one unit at the plant are high, further damaging Three Mile Island's financial viability. "TMI remains economically challenged as a result of continued low wholesale power prices and the lack of federal or Pennsylvania energy policies that value zero-emissions nuclear energy", Exelon says. The list also included Three Mile Island and the NY and IL plants that have received bailouts.