(HARRISBURG) – Senators Ryan Aument (R-36) and John Yudichak (D-14) along with Representatives Becky Corbin (R-155) and Rob Matzie (D-16), who co-chair the Pennsylvania General Assembly’s bipartisan Nuclear Energy Caucus (NEC), today released the “Bicameral Nuclear Energy Caucus Report” detailing the nuclear energy industry’s contributions to Pennsylvania’s communities, economy, and environment. The report, which will be transmitted to all members of the General Assembly and to Governor Wolf, includes four options for the future of the state’s challenged industry, including the General Assembly taking action in 2019 to prevent the employment, economic, and environmental devastation associated with the premature closure of nuclear plants in the Commonwealth.
Acknowledging the announced premature closures of Three Mile Island in 2019 and Beaver Valley in 2021, one-fourth of Pennsylvania’s nuclear power, Senator Aument said: “As state lawmakers, we take seriously our obligations to set energy policies that help promote Pennsylvania’s economy and protect our environment. The loss of these plants would be a devastating and permanent blow to Pennsylvania’s communities, economy, and environment so we took a hard look at what could and should be done to prevent this, and future, devastation.”
Since its formation in March 2017, the Nuclear Energy Caucus – the first of its kind anywhere in the nation – has tried to better understand the underlying causes of nuclear plant premature retirements, and to determine if these announced closures were an anomaly or a symptom of a larger problem for Pennsylvania’s nuclear industry. After hosting educational meetings throughout the 2017-2018 Legislative Session to hear expert testimony on topics ranging from clean energy to national security, the Nuclear Energy Caucus (NEC) found that Pennsylvania’s five nuclear plants provide numerous benefits, including:
- Providing nearly 40% of the Commonwealth’s total electricity production and just over 93% of Pennsylvania’s zero-emissions energy
- Supporting 16,000 jobs in Pennsylvania and contributing more than $2 billion annually to the Commonwealth’s economy
- Moderating electricity prices, benefitting Pennsylvania customers by an estimated $788 million per year in the form of lower bills
- Improving air quality by preventing substantial emissions of C02, S02, and particulate matter
- Ensuring grid resilience and reliability by providing energy to the grid 24/7
“Promoting and preserving the numerous, important benefits provided to our citizens by the state’s nuclear industry is precisely the reason the Nuclear Energy Caucus was created,” said Representative Matzie.
The NEC also sought to understand the employment, economic, and environmental impacts associated with the premature closures and determine if there are any actions the General Assembly or the Commonwealth should be undertaking to prevent the premature closure of the state’s nuclear plants. Understanding the continued inaction by Congress, the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee (FERC), and regional grid operators such as PJM, states like New York, Illinois, Connecticut, and New Jersey took direct action to prevent the devastating economic, environmental, and consumer impacts associated with losing their state’s nuclear industry.
According to the report, the current federal, regional, and state landscape leaves Pennsylvania with four options to determine the future of Pennsylvania’s nuclear industry:
- Do nothing and leave Pennsylvania’s clean energy resources, including its nuclear plants, on a trajectory to early retirement – effectively allowing PJM to dictate the mix of resources serving Pennsylvania.
- Modify AEPS (or establish a ZEC program) to put nuclear generation on equal footing with other zero-emission electric generation resources in Pennsylvania.
- Modify AEPS (or establish a ZEC program) with a “safety valve” mechanism that (depending on the outcome of the FERC proceeding) would allow Pennsylvania to adopt a new capacity construct proposed by FERC that is designed to accommodate state programs to support preferred generation resources.
- Establish a Pennsylvania carbon pricing program.
“It’s clear to me that only some of the report’s options are viable for preventing irreversible harm to Pennsylvania’s communities, economy, and environment associated with losing nuclear power plants. Pennsylvania lawmakers will have to act soon if we want to protect our consumers and the nuclear industry because policymakers and regulators in Washington D.C. have failed to address growing, long-standing flaws in energy markets,” said Representative Corbin.
“Given our state’s prominence in energy production, it is important that lawmakers focus on an inclusive energy policy that promotes and respects the contribution that each resource offers. The NEC looks forward to continuing the dialogue with our colleagues in the General Assembly in the coming weeks and months,” said Senator Yudichak. “But time is not on our side. Pennsylvanians – especially those whose livelihood depends on nuclear energy – are looking to us for action.”
About The Nuclear Energy Caucus
On March 16, 2017, Senators Ryan Aument (R-36) and John Yudichak (D-14) along with Representatives Becky Corbin (R-155) and Rob Matzie (D-16) announced the formation of the Pennsylvania Nuclear Energy Caucus (NEC), a bi-partisan, bi-cameral caucus of Pennsylvania’s General Assembly to focus on nuclear energy issues. The caucus, the first nuclear caucus in a state legislature in the history of the United States, was formed to give members of the General Assembly an opportunity to become more educated about nuclear energy’s economic and environmental value and provide another voice in other important discussions, including electric power reliability, affordability and safety. To date, the caucus has over 79 members and has hosted numerous educational meetings and tours of the Commonwealth’s nuclear facilities, has supported pro-nuclear resolutions in the State Senate and House of Representatives, and has weighed in as a collective body with the regional grid operator, PJM, ad with the U.S. Federal Regulatory Committee.
The full report can be viewed at here.