Thursday, April 27, 2017

Will Pa lawmakers boost nuclear power with a subsidy?

Three Mile Island
Exelon's Three Mile Island plant outside Harrisburg.

Marie Cusick reports for StateImpact:

State lawmakers have begun discussing ways to shore up Pennsylvania’s struggling nuclear power industry, while maintaining a reliable electric grid and low prices for consumers.
That was the focus of a meeting Wednesday of the new, bipartisn Nuclear Energy Caucus. As the drilling boom continues to flood the market with cheap gas and electricity demand has slowed, the nuclear industry is having trouble keeping up. Last year the Three Mile Island plant near Harrisburg didn’t clear an auction for the future sale of its electricity raising concerns it could shut down prematurely
The caucus is widely expected to push for some kind of legislation later this year to secure the future of Pennsylvania’s nuclear fleet. The state’s five plants produce about a third of its electricity.
During the caucus’ second meeting Wednesday, legislators heard from the PJM Interconnection– the regional transmission organization that coordinates the movement of wholesale electricity for 13 states and Washington D.C.
Recent legislation in Illinois and New York has helped prop up the nuclear industry through zero emission credits. However those programs have been challenged in court by competing power producers, who argue they interfere with competitive electricity markets.

A Pennsylvania coalition recently formed to oppose a similar move by Harrisburg. Citizens Against Nuclear Bailouts has 17 members so far, including the natural gas trade group, the Marcellus Shale Coalition, Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association, Pennsylvania Chemical Industry Council and the AARP.
Editor's Note: What's shaping up here is a battle among heavyweights. The state's nuclear lobbyist got out of the blocks first with their Nuclear Energy Caucus but that initiative was quickly countered by the natural gas industry and its Citizens Against Nuclear Bailouts. The turf battle will put legislators in the uncomfortable position of siding with one side against the other. On the plus side for lawmakers, the tug-of-war likely will generate a heavy infusion of new campaign contributions by both sides.  Care to wager an opinion on how this all works out?  Use the comment box below or weigh in on our EnviroPolitics Facebook Page.    

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