Legislators in New Jersey have sent a nuclear power rescue bill to Gov. Phil Murphy after votes in the state Senate and Assembly on Friday moved the bill forward.
The initiative to support nuclear power began with the previous administration, but Gov. Chris Christie could not find the support for it when he was in office. The new law, which would provide $300 million per year in support for the state's three nuclear power plants, passed with a Democratic majority in the legislature. Gov. Murphy is also a Democrat. In the past, he has said he sees nuclear power as a bridge towards a zero-carbon emissions energy portfolio for the state.
Currently, 40 percent of the state's electricity generation comes from its three nuclear power plants, Salem, Oyster Creek and Hope Creek, although Oyster Creek, the country's oldest operating nuclear power plant, is slated to close in October this year.
The bill underwent several re-writes on its way towards passage. At one point, the bill was coupled the a clean energy initiative in support of renewable power, but that proved unpopular with lawmakers. A separate clean energy initiative, however, also passed on Friday. It calls for a push in renewable power, targeting 35 percent of the state's electricity to come from renewable sources by 2025.
The New York Times headline put the bills into perspective, calling it a “big step for renewable energy,” but adding that nuclear power found support “for now.”
The bill headed to Gov. Murphy allows for four years of support for the state's nuclear power, although it can be extended at the end of four years.
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