Entergy Corp. will announce some time this winter whether it will move forward with costly repairs and upgrades to the beleaguered Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station or simply decide the 43-year-old plant is no longer a moneymaker and close it down.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission downgraded Pilgrim to the bottom of the performance list for the nation’s 99 operating reactors two weeks ago, based on the frequency of forced shutdowns and equipment failures there since 2013.
The so-called Column 4 category is just one step above mandatory shutdown by federal regulators. Only two other reactors in the country are in that performance category, both at Arkansas Nuclear I and both owned by Entergy.
Meanwhile state Sen. Daniel Wolf, a Democrat from Harwich and longtime Pilgrim critic, has filed two bills that would add about $58 million to Entergy’s yearly expenses. The bills are expected to be considered this fall, Wolf said.
The first would impose a $10,000 annual charge for each spent fuel bundle that remains in pools at nuclear plants. Pilgrim has more than 3,000 bundles in its pool, making the charge $33 million. Wolf’s second bill would institute a requirement that $25 million be paid annually by nuclear plants into a decommissioning fund, so enough money would be available to cover closure.
Diane Turco, founder of the watchdog group Cape Downwinders, said she welcomed news that Entergy is looking at Pilgrim’s viability. “It’s very exciting that shutdown is on the table,” Turco said.
Turco added it should be shut down immediately. “Public safety should have no price tag,” she said.