Three Mile Island To Close In 2019 -- 15 Years Early

Exelon Corporation said Tuesday that it would close down the Three Miles Island Generating Station in Pennsylvania in September 2019, barring an unexpected policy shift that would turn the current energy market economics around for the state's nuclear power industry.

Three Mile Island NPPExelon said that amending Pennsylvania's Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (AEPS) policy to an approach “similar to (the policies) being implemented in Illinois and New York,” would allow them to revisit the decision to close the plant. As it is, “nuclear power is not included in the state's AEPS. Yet 16 clean power sources, including solar, wind and hydro are supported by this state's energy policy,” the company noted.

The statement issued by Exelon includes some bitter truths, especially so in the age of growing alarm over global warming and the role cheap natural gas – a climate change contributor – is having on the energy markets. With some added irony, Pennsylvania is a state where the technique of fracking has contributed significantly to the turnaround in the energy market.

“Exelon is committed to working with its stakeholders to find the best solution for Pennsylvania – one that will maintain nuclear energy's $2 billion annual contribution to the state's economy and its approximately 16,000 direct and indirect Pennsylvania jobs,” the company said.

“Today is a difficult day, not just for the 675 talented men and women who have dedicated themselves to operating Three Mile Island safety and reliably every day, but also for their families, the communities and customers who depend on this plant to produce clean energy and support local jobs,” said Exelon President and Chief Executive Officer Chris Crane.

“Like New York and Illinois before it, the Commonwealth has an opportunity to take a leadership role by implementing a policy solution to preserve its nuclear energy facilities,” Crane said.

The company, however, is taking the necessary steps to move towards a final shut down Three Mile Island Unit 1, a Babcock & Wilcox Lowered Loop pressurized water reactor that was first commissioned in 1974. This includes canceling 2019 fuel purchase and outage planning, terminating capital investment projects that would be needed for long-term support, and accepting a one-time $65 million to $110 million charge for 2017. The corporation will also accelerate the plant's depreciation schedule significantly, hastening the depreciation of up to $1.1 billion through the announced shut down date.

The current license is not set to expire until April 2034, meaning the company is giving up on 15 years of potential production life for the power plant.

It was Unit 2 at the facility that suffered the partial meltdown that is often called the worst ever accident at a nuclear power plant in the United States.

The incident that took place March 28, 1979, was rated at a five on the seven-point International Nuclear Event Scale, which categorizes the event as an “accident with wider consequences.” The radioactive releases during the accident were feared to cause a spike in local cancers. A rise in thyroid cancers among residents who lived within 10 miles of the power plant was noted by the Pennysylvania Cancer Registry, but the rise was considered statistically insignificant, according to a University of Pittsburgh study.

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  • Anonymous

    It is sad that so much moneyis being expended on Green Energy.  Get rid of all the government subsidies, and nucelar power would become themost cost effective  power supply available.  It is the ignorance of the consumer that allows this to happen.  20-30 years ago when the nuclear industry was thriving, the NRC and the utilities let things get pout of control  There was too much fear being promoted by anti-nucealr organizations and too many modifications were being implemented during the constructionphase of a plant, adding considerable cost to the plants.  There are now standard plants available with many years of experience and advanced technology.  We wouold be better served by having the Investor Owned Utiltities educate their customers as to hte benefits of nuclear power and the legislators doing what is right for the consumers instead of bending to the will of the few.   I am not against Green Energy, but I am hard pressed to justify it without all the subsidies that are being granted and tax benefits.  What could happen if we would do the same for nucelar power.  

    David B

  • Anonymous

    Very bad move for clean air approach.

  • The research and development of controlled nuclear fission was completely supported by U.S. taxpayers, many of them in the community surrounding TMI.  Denial of the effects of the accident have put the onus on tax- and rate-payers to support the illnesses caused by radiation -- an effect that was proved by Alice Stewart in the 1950s.  Also, the nuclear power industry, outside research and development, has been subsidized by government support from the beginning because of the faux need for plutonium in "defense."  I am repulsed by the constant whining of the nuclear power industry, particularly Exelon, which received its 3rd bailout in Illinois on account of it can't run the nuclear business, stuck its neck out, found the project to be a bust, never had to pay for insurance --  because we paid for it -- and now is putting on a poor face to Pennsylvania when it's bottom line with fossil fuel power is PLENTY to bail out its own financial failures in the nuclear side of their unbelievable, extraordinarily, exceptionally, abnormally, conspicuously badly-run business.

  • We here in Illinois got the same threat from Exelon:  Bail us out or we'll close this extremely valuable asset with its hundreds of jobs and support for the community! (sob!) (sob!).  So our dopey legislators and venal Governor went along with this faux sad story and committed Illinoisians to 30 years of escalating electricity rates for NPPs that harm us.  Exelon was not even required to promise that they would not close Quad Cities and Clinton.  In the meantime, Exelon has spent years and $$ lobbying against fixing the Renewable Portfolio Standard -- which by the way, would provide more and better jobs than the nuclear industry -- blackmailing the entire state to get its way in an ugly sausage bill that pulled the wool over Sierra Club's eyes by supporting a pittance for renewables and giving Exelon billions of dollars.  We need to open up our eyes, take no more lies and do it NOW! NOW! NOW!  We need to build a better future; and we need to start right NOW!

  • Anonymous

    Can we please remove the troll January from posting on here.  Its like watching a liberal get TRIGGERED when you mention Trump its hilarious but rather scary at the same time knowing there are people like them out in the world.