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Conor Lamb joins effort to keep Beaver County nuclear plant open

| Thursday, May 10, 2018, 12:16 p.m.
The FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company Beaver Valley Power Station in Shippingport.
Jasmine Goldband | Trib Total Media
The FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company Beaver Valley Power Station in Shippingport.

U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, D-Mt. Lebanon, called on regulators Wednesday to keep open a Beaver County nuclear power plant that is set to close in three years.

The congressional district Lamb represents doesn't include Beaver County. He is seeking re-election in a district that does — the newly created 17th Congressional District includes Lamb's Mt. Lebanon and all of Beaver County.

A subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp. announced in March that it would deactivate the Beaver Valley Power Station in Shippingport and two other nuclear plants by 2021, saying the company could not profitably operate them under market conditions.

FirstEnergy Solutions Corp. asked the federal government to intervene shortly after the announcement, arguing that closing nuclear and coal-fired power plants threatens the electrical grid's stability.

In a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Lamb asked the regulator to minimize interference with local energy markets. He noted in the letter that the grid operator drawing energy from the plant supplies power to his current district.

“Given the opportunity to participate in fair markets, I am confident the plant would be very competitive,” Lamb wrote. “As the commonwealth considers proactive measures to ensure these plants continue operation, Pennsylvania's ability to do so should not be unnecessarily restricted.”

U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus, a Republican from Sewickley who represents a district that includes Beaver County and is seeking re-election in the newly created 17th, said in a March statement that “excessive regulations, government-created distortions and flawed electricity market designs” put the nuclear power plant at a competitive disadvantage.

“Each plant that closes injects unacceptable risk into the electric grid's safety, reliability and resiliency,” Rothfus wrote.

Wes Venteicher is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-380-5676, or via Twitter @wesventeicher.

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