Published: Fri, June 02, 2017
Life&Culture | By Rose Hansen

Three Mile Island Nuclear Power Plant to Close in 2019

Three Mile Island Nuclear Power Plant to Close in 2019

Though the Limerick Generating Station in Montgomery County, another Exelon Corp. nuclear power plant, has twice as many reactors producing electricity than its more famous company counterpart at Three Mile Island, it faces uncertain economic times as well, according to Exelon. Despite industry advocates calling for nuclear power to receive some of the same boosts given to solar and wind power, benefits that detractors refer to as "nuclear bailouts", Three Mile Island isn't the only plant that will be shut down in coming years.

"Absent policy reforms, the loss of Pennsylvania nuclear plants would increase air pollution, compromise the resiliency of the electric grid, raise energy prices for consumers, eliminate thousands of good-paying local jobs and weaken the state's economy", company officials wrote.

The Three Mile Island nuclear power generating station. In the days before Chernobyl and Fukushima, three other words were synonymous with nuclear disaster in the United States: Three Mile Island.

Because of the flood of natural gas on the market, a lot of it from the Northeast's Marcellus Shale formation, dozens of new gas-fired plants are coming online or planned.

In June 2016, Exelon announced it would move forward with the early retirements of two nuclear power plants in Illinois - Clinton and Quad Cities - due to a lack of progress on that state's energy policy. "It's not renewable; you have to keep buying the fuel, " said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. Exelon Corp announced in a press release last week that it failed to auction off future energy production from Three Mile Island for the third year in a row.

TMI is the site of the largest nuclear plant melt down in US history.

The meltdown put the brakes on building new nuclear plants in the US, and prompted the industry to apply more stringent safety standards.

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A handful of nuclear power plants have shut down in recent years, majority forced out of service by intense competition from low-cost, reliable natural gas-fired power plants as well as solar and wind farms, which get federal subsidies.

A policy idea that Exelon offered up as an idea to consider resembles a policy change that NY implemented in April and one that is scheduled to take effect in IL on Thursday to address the economic challenges plaguing the nuclear industry in their states.

Republican State Sen. Mike Folmer, whose district includes the Three Mile Island reactor, told PennLive that he feared that one source could become the state's sole supplier of electricity. Starting at 4 a.m. that day in March 1979, multiple failures occurred to produce what still stands as the nation's worst commercial nuclear accident.

While nuclear power may be carbon-free, he said the Sierra Club doesn't support it because "we don't have a way to effectively deal with the waste and we're concerned about the risk involved if something goes wrong at the plant". "It worked in IL and NY".

So, for now, Dumoulin-Smith said the question remains: "Does the state decide to step in and, if and when they do decide to step in, is it going to be too late?"

Exelon shares rose 0.5 percent to $36 at 10:53 NY, outperforming the S&P 500 Utilities Index. The plaintiffs argue that the plan interferes with wholesale power prices in violation of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's authority over interstate power sales.

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