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2017-06-02 / Energy Updates

Owner says Three Mile Island plant to shut down in 2019

HARRISBURG, PA (AP) – The owner of Three Mile Island, site of the United States’ worst commercial nuclear power accident, said Monday that it will shut down the plant in 2019 without a financial rescue from Pennsylvania.

Exelon Corp.’s announcement comes after what it called more than five years of losses on the single-unit power plant and its recent failure in a capacity auction to sell Three Mile Island’s power into the regional grid.

In the meantime, the Chicago-based energy company wants Pennsylvania to give nuclear power the kind of preferential treatment that are given to renewable energies, such as wind and solar.

Exelon and other nuclear power plant owners have made the pitch to states that zero-carbon nuclear plants are better suited than natural gas or coal to fight climate change.

So-called nuclear bailouts have thus far won approval in Illinois and New York, but the potential for higher utility bills in Pennsylvania is drawing pushback from rival energy companies, manufacturers and consumer advocates.

Nuclear power plants have been hammered by the natural gas boom that has slashed electricity prices in competitive markets.

Three Mile Island isn’t alone: FirstEnergy Corp. has said it could decide next year to sell or close its three nuclear plants — Davis-Besse and Perry in Ohio and Beaver Valley in Pennsylvania.

PSEG of New Jersey owns all or parts of four nuclear plants, but it has said it won’t operate ones that are long-term money losers.

With the rapid growth of natural gas power in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, closing Three Mile Island would have little or no impact on electricity bills, analysts say. But it may be replaced by carbon-emitting power sources such as coal or natural gas.

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