[UPDATED] Amid a protest demanding the state of Pennsylvania enact low-carbon energy support legislation, Exelon Generation retired its Unit 1 Three Mile Island reactor Friday, an 819 MWe (net) pressurized water reactor that first went online 45 years ago.
The reactor was closed down 15 years prior to the end of its current operating license. The company gave up 15 years of investment because of economic reasons. Due to a glut in the market of natural gas and stagnant demand, the nuclear power plant was no longer profitable, the company said.
Exelon announced its closure in 2018, giving the state time to pass legislation that would reward the plant for its zero-carbon emissions. The state, however, did not pass any such legislation, forcing the closure on Friday.
Various state officials, including state representatives, labor leaders and community members were on hand at the TMI closure demanding the state pass a measure to save Beaver Valley from a similar fate in two years.
“ For the past 45 years, Three Mile Island Generating Station Unit 1 has been safely and reliably powering more than 830,000 homes and businesses with carbon-free energy. That legacy ended at noon today when operators took the TMI Unit 1 reactor offline for the final time, setting a site record of running 709 continuous days, beating the station’s previous record of 705 days set in 2009,” Exelon said in a statement.
Workers will now commence the full shut down procedures in anticipation of decommissioning. Over the next few weeks, workers will remove the reactor’s fuel supply, moving it to a storage pool. Long-term decommissioning will begin after that is completed.
“Today we celebrate the proud legacy of TMI Unit 1 and the thousands of employees who shared our commitment to safety, operational excellence and environmental stewardship for nearly five decades,” said Bryan Hanson, senior vice president and chief nuclear officer. “At a time when our communities are demanding more clean energy to address climate change, it’s regrettable that state law does not support the continued operation of this safe and reliable source of carbon-free power. It’s critical that we continue to pursue policy reform to prevent other carbon-free nuclear resources from being pushed out of the market by rules that fail to evenly value clean energy resources and at the same time allow emitting resources to pollute for free.”
Three Mile Island Unit 1 began commercial operation in September 1974. Since Exelon Generation purchased TMI Unit 1 in 2000, the plant has offset more than 95 million metric tons of carbon, the equivalent of keeping nearly 20 million cars off the road.
It is also estimated that the station and its employees contributed more than $3.5 billion into the local economy, including wages, taxes, charitable contributions and local purchasing.
“We salute Three Mile Island and its employees for the service and partnership they have provided to Londonderry Township and the surrounding communities for 45 years,” said Londonderry Township Manager, Steve Letavic. “This is a tough day for many. However, we look forward to maintaining a strong relationship with those at the facility as it enters into decommissioning.”
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It"s a sad day in PA. If other states can pass resolutions to support Nuclear power, PA should have been able to also. Wind and Solar will become disasters in the coming years.