For the third year in a row, Three Mile Island failed to secure a crucial contract to sell its electricity, increasing the possibility that the plant will soon close.
The plant is allowed to remain open through 2034. However, Exelon will decide by September whether to close the plant ahead of schedule, said David Marcheskie, Three Mile Island spokesman.
The inability to get a contract is a major loss for plant owner Exelon, and stokes fear among the communities likely to be affected by the loss of 671 jobs, should the plant close.
[…]The nuclear power industry has struggled to stay profitable amid the power industry’s increasing use of inexpensive natural gas and declining electricity usage, Exelon officials have said. Three Mile Island also has a unique problem: It has only one working reactor, following the 1979 partial meltdown that remains the greatest commercial nuclear power accident in the U.S.
The plant employs almost as many people as a typical, two-reactor plant, but generates about half the power, Marcheskie said.
[…]Another Exelon nuclear plant, Quad Cities, in Illinois, also failed to secure a contract, Marcheskie said. That plant was slated for early closure, but state legislators stepped in to save the plant, for the moment.
Exelon is pursuing similar steps for Three Mile Island, said Exelon spokeswoman Lacey Dean.
That’s part of the company’s overall strategy of getting legislators to recognize that the value of nuclear power extends beyond its energy output, Dean said. Nuclear power releases no carbon emissions, doesn’t rely on fossil fuels and is reliable during severe weather.
Nuclear advocates have looked to the federal government to subsidize nuclear power, but that hasn’t happened, Dean said.
Trump has shown interest in re-starting the stalled plan to build a permanent nuclear waste storage center at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, Keeley said. “Trump has since then come out and said nuclear power is a vital national interest.”
Perhaps more important is what has happened in states such as New York and Illinois, Keeley said. Those state governments have included nuclear power plants as part of their plans to reduce pollution and have sought to ensure that their nuclear plants don’t close.
Keeley lauded the Pennsylvania Legislature’s recently-established “nuclear caucus” as one hope for the state’s five nuclear plants.
At the local level, however, people are worried, said Letavic, Londonderry Township manager.
Over the years, Three Mile Island has helped the township to raise $600,000 — about $50,000 each year — that funds the local fire company and other services.
The company and its employees have flooded the region with money. Without the plant, real estate values would decline, taxes would increase and services would struggle to find funding.
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