Three Mile Island To Shut Down In 2 Years

A woman walks her dog along the Susquehanna River in front of the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Goldsboro, Pennsylvania, U.S. May 30, 2017.

The nuclear power plant is best known as the site of the most serious nuclear accident in US history, when equipment malfunctions, design-related problems, and worker errors cause a partial meltdown of Three Mile Island Unit 2's reactor core on March 28, 1979.

Cheap natural gas could do what the worst commercial nuclear power accident in US history could not: put Three Mile Island out of business. Nearly four decades later, the Pennsylvania power plant can't seem to withstand cheap natural gas.

"Like New York and IL 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".

Exelon Corp, the US power company that owns the Middletown, Pennsylvania, power plant, said it will close by September 30, 2019, unless the state adopts rules to compensate the company for benefits Exelon says nuclear power provides.

Three Mile Island Nuclear Station, Unit 1 is located in Middletown, Pa., about 10 miles southeast of Harrisburg.

Exelon wants Pennsylvania to give nuclear power the kind of preferential treatment and premium payments that are extended to renewable forms of energy, such as wind and solar.

Exelon also has contended that subsidizing Three Mile Island would save a source of good-paying jobs. Exelon said that its operating costs for just one unit at the plant are high, further damaging Three Mile Island's financial viability.

Regardless, the accident badly undermined support for nuclear power. An increase in fracking has spurred the production of cheap natural gas, providing utilities with an attractive and readily available alternative to both nuclear and coal power.

Without a state bailout, the Three Mile Island Nuclear power plant could close in 2019 - and clean-power advocates say closing it may be the best option.

The movie "The China Syndrome", about a fictitious near-meltdown at a California nuclear plant, came out two weeks before the real-life crisis at Three Mile Island.

Meanwhile, electricity consumption hit a wall after the recession, while states have emphasized renewable energy and efficiency. Exelon will take a charge of as much as $110 million this year related to the operation and planned shutdown.

  • Zachary Reyes