Report: Electricty prices could increase $285 million if two Pa. nuke plants close

By: Jared Stonesifer |

A new report claims the premature retirement of both the Beaver Valley and Three Mile Island nuclear power plants could result in a $285 million increase in electricity costs for Pennsylvania consumers.

A new report claims the premature retirement of both the Beaver Valley and Three Mile Island nuclear power plants could result in a $285 million increase in electricity costs for Pennsylvania consumers.

The report, authored by a consulting firm called The Brattle Group, was commissioned on behalf of a nuclear advocacy group called Nuclear Matters.

The nine-page report released Monday examined the economic and environmental impacts of the potential closure of the two Pennsylvania nuclear plants, as well as two other FirstEnergy-owned plants in Ohio.

If the plants were to go offline, Pennsylvania and Ohio would lose the zero-emission benefits of power generation, the report said. To that end, the authors estimated an additional 21 million metric tons of carbon dioxide would be released annually by other power plants, or the equivalent of 4.5 million additional cars on area roadways.

That’s not to mention that the four power plants directly employ more than 3,000 people, as well as hundreds of contractors who perform maintenance and security work for the plants. Most, if not all, of those jobs would disappear if the plants close, which would result in the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in state and local tax revenues.

Judd Gregg, a former senator from New Hampshire and a member of Nuclear Matters’ advocacy council, reacted to the study Monday and said he’s seen firsthand the “devastating effects” of premature closures of nuclear plants.

In August of 2013, the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant closed prematurely, which resulted in drastic loss of local tax revenues and increases in carbon emissions.

Allowing a similar scenario to unfold in Pennsylvania and Ohio would be “nothing short of irresponsible,” he said.

“Thousands of lost jobs, major hits to local tax revenues, higher electricity costs for consumers, and more harmful pollutants – any lawmaker should take steps to avoid such a situation,” Gregg said in a news release.

In that same news release, the president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers said “communities will be torn apart” by the premature closure of nuclear power plants.

“If these plants close, the livelihoods of thousands of Ohio and Pennsylvania residents will disappear. The over 3,000 highly skilled individuals directly employed by these sites will leave to seek employment at other facilities still operating around the country,” Lonnie Stephenson said.

Despite the study and the accompanying support for nuclear plants, plenty of opposition remains to any potential bailouts for the nuclear industry.

To that end, the president of the American Petroleum Institute on Friday sent a letter to President Donald Trump, urging him not to enact emergency measures that could prop up nuclear facilities.

Jack Gerard said the influx of cheap natural gas has resulted in cheaper electrical generation, and any impact the Marcellus shale revolution has had on nuclear plants is simply capitalism at work.

“The natural gas industry and the shale revolution are poster children for letting the markets work,″ Gerard said. “The energy abundance wrought by the shale gas revolution is a prime example of competition at work.”

Gerard added that natural gas “has demonstrated both reliability and resilience in its ability to deliver” cheaper electricity, and any interference by the government would jeopardize the “economic benefits delivered to consumers” by natural gas.

Report: Electricty prices could increase $285 million if two Pa. nuke plants close