Editorial: Nuclear energy makes its own money | TribLIVE.com
Editorials

Editorial: Nuclear energy makes its own money

1143291_web1_ptr-3MileIslandA-032819
The Three Mile Island nuclear power plant is nestled on an island in the middle of the Susquehanna River in Middletown, Pa.

Think about Pennsylvania and energy and you might think coal or natural gas.

But the state really shines when it comes to nuclear. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Pennsylvania is second only to Illinois when it comes to nuclear power. What lights up most of our homes is nuclear power. Pennsylvania makes so much electricity from nuclear energy that much of it is exported.

We may consume more natural gas (and produce more than any state but Texas), but nuclear edges it out in terms of electrical production, with coal a distant third.

But that might change. As of Wednesday, Exelon Corp. said it is making plans to start shuttering Three Mile Island on June 1.

Exelon and First Energy have been lobbying the Legislature for years to get the state to pass what many called a bailout. It was more like permission to get money directly from the users rather than a pool of money that would come from state coffers.

The request might make sense if you only looked at TMI. Was it losing money? Yes. But then, it was only working with one reactor after the famous 1979 incident that remains America’s biggest nuclear shake-up. It has almost all of the costs that the other four plants in Pennsylvania have, but can only produce half the energy.

But those other four plants are doing just fine. In fact, they are making about $600 million a year, according to state Rep. Eric Nelson, R-Hempfield. He is happy to support nuclear energy. He just doesn’t want to authorize a de facto tax passed along to electric customers at an estimate of nearly $1 billion annually.

The Environmental Defense Fund is also opposed. Andrew Williams, director of regulatory and legislative affairs, sees nuclear as an important part of producing clean energy in Pennsylvania, but would rather see investment in lowering regional greenhouse gas emissions through a mix of sources, including nuclear and, yes, even coal.

Closing TMI makes business sense but it has to be separated from support for nuclear energy overall, and there is no reason that Pennsylvanians should foot the bill for companies that are already making huge profits and exporting energy. Do we really believe they will take their $600 million ball and go home?

Maybe home is where we should look. Exelon is helmed in Illinois, where similar legislation was passed in 2016 regarding two facilities. In February, Exelon threatened closure of three other Illinois nuclear plants.

Categories: Opinion | Editorials
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.