Losses "Severe" With Plant Closings, Says Brattle Group

A research firm, The Brattle Group, said Monday that closing four nuclear power plants in Ohio and Pennsylvania would have “severe environmental and economic impacts,” naming plants owned and operated by FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company and Exelon Generation that are on the chopping block due to market forces that have made them unprofitable.

Beaver Valley NPPThe Brattle Group specified the Beaver Valley Power Station, Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station, Perry Nuclear Generating Station, operated by FirstEnergy and Three Mile Island, operated by Exelon, noting that closing the plants would likely result in an increase of over twenty million metric tons of C02 emissions, plus “tens of thousands of tons of incremental air pollutants and significantly higher electricity costs to consumers.” The closures would also risk pulling hundreds of millions of Gross Domestic Product dollars out of circulation and erase thousands ODF jobs in Ohio, Pennsylvania “and the broader region.”

The Brattle Group based its findings on prior studies of the economic and environmental impact of the nuclear power plants.

By increased C02 emissions would be the equivalent of putting and additional 4.5 million cars on the road. However, the social costs, due to increased health risks and other factors, would be approximately $900 million per year, the group said.

There is a social cost associated with increases in S02 and NOX particulate matter, which could cost $170 million per year. Throughout the region, electricity costs are expected to rise by $400 million in Ohio and $285 million in Pennsylvania.

The report also notes that it would take 15 years at the current growth rate of renewable power sources to bring the rise in pollutants back down to a net gain of zero.

In recent developments, FirstEnergy, which filed for bankruptcy in late March, asked Energy Secretary Rick Perry declare an emergency threat to the electricity grid due to the many nuclear plant closures anticipated as a result of price drops in wholesale markets that have put the nuclear plants in danger of closing before their operating licenses run out. 

Media reports quote President Donald Trump as saying “We'll be looking at that,” referring to the administration's response to FirstEnergy's request.

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