Eric Nelson: Pennsylvania should be cautious about nuclear bailout |
Featured Commentary

Eric Nelson: Pennsylvania should be cautious about nuclear bailout

Three Mile Island Unit 1 nuclear power plant’s cooling towers release nonradioactive water vapor into the atmosphere in the early hours of the morning March 12, 2009.

Normally, businesses use hard work to generate profit and, at times, big business uses lobbyists. This appears to be the strategy as the nuclear industry levels its crosshairs on Pennsylvania.

In New York, its $500 million marketing assault secured a return on investment of $5.7 billion in higher energy prices for consumers.

Regardless of which side of the nuclear bailout you fall, all should agree it needs to happen in a public forum and not layered into the fiscal code, as has occurred in other states.

I support nuclear energy and am comfortable with the nuclear waste it generates in exchange for massive baseload power.

One must ask why environmentalists are getting into bed with the energy companies on the bailout idea. They both are currently gunning for a better deal. Do the environmentalists not know higher energy costs will stall new investment and slow our state’s economy? The University of Pennsylvania’s Kleinman Center for Energy Policy calculates Pennsylvania’s bailout to cost taxpayers just under $1 billion each year.

The new power plant near Smithton cost just under $1 billion using no taxpayer funds, and 12 more similiar plants are scheduled to be built by Pennsylvania workers. Even the massive Hatfield plant may be repurposed to return high-salary energy jobs. That plant fell victim to the federal government picking winners and losers. There was no bailout for our friends in coal.

Facts and figures can be boring, but emotional threats of rolling brownouts are no joke. I would encourage everyone to look at the facts. Pennsylvania is the No. 2 energy-producing state in a country that is now the largest producer in the world. This came by getting government out of the way and allowing environmentally responsible private investment. Pennsylvania’s air hasn’t been this clean since before the Industrial Revolution.

I don’t fault the industry for wanting to return to the days when energy barons comfortably enjoyed guaranteed profits. However, a program requiring 50 percent government-mandated energy pricing will result in much higher costs on working families, seniors and business.

I believe we should ask some difficult questions before government picks winners and losers in the energy marketplace. Do we really need a third taxpayer-funded bailout for a plant built in the late 1960s, and will Exelon commit to keeping Three Mile Island open if it wins?

TMI is the only Pennsylvania plant that lost money in 2018; the four other nuclear plants generated over $600 million in profits. Exelon reported handsome gains, with Exelon Nuclear generating the most power ever at 159 TWHs. I am happy for their success and the $23 billion committed for new projects over the next four years. Are they investing in Pennsylvania?

I applaud Exelon’s transparency to clearly state its strategy of “Zero Emissions Credits” as a tool to enhance shareholder profits. So why the panicked push for a Pennsylvania bailout? Before we lock in higher energy costs on the citizens of this state, we should have a deliberative and transparent debate.

If Pennsylvania wants to revise its energy policy, we should be forward-looking and embrace new technology across all energy types. The nuclear industry has “Accident Tolerant Fuels” and “micro-nukes,” but they choose not to place those new investments in Pennsylvania; instead, they want our taxpayers to just pay more.

We all should be cautious.

Rep. Eric Nelson of Hempfield, a Republican, represents the 57th District.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using 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.