Arizona, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York & New Jersey Nuclear Power Crises
Eight nuclear power plants in five states are facing closure. This represents an extreme emergency in terms of electricity production and clean air protection.
An Arizona ballot initiative could prematurely close the state’s sole nuclear plant, Palo Verde. If the ballot initiative succeeds in the November 2018 election, Palo Verde will close in 2024 instead of in 2044, according to its operator, Arizona Public Service (APS). The initiative would require 50 percent of Arizona’s electricity to come from renewable sources like solar and wind. The initiative excludes nuclear from the clean energy mandate. In order to accommodate such a large increase in intermittent energy from solar and wind, APS believes it would need to close Palo Verde and replace it with natural gas. The Palo Verde Generating Station is the largest power plant in the United States by net generation
Nuclear’s importance is especially acute in the Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland (PJM) Interconnection system, America’s largest competitive power market, spanning 13 states.
Ohio's FirstEnergy plans to close three of its nuclear plants in Ohio and Pennsylvania. The three nuclear plants that FirstEnergy plans to shut down by 2021, plus Exelon’s Three Mile Island nuclear plant, which is scheduled to close next year, produced more energy than all of the wind and solar generation combined in PJM.
Illinois moved to compensate nuclear plants for their zero-carbon value. New York has implemented a similar program. Both states have adopted zero-carbon energy credits, in which the state issues credits to nuclear plants for generating carbon-free power, which they can sell on the open market to raise revenue. Unfortunately, Indian Point nuclear power plant was left out of the New York program. When it closes, replacement power will come from inner city plants, which will increase negative health effects in those communities.
New Jersey is proposing a zero carbon program similar to the Illinois and New York models. AAEA has testified at hearings in support of the legislation.
Ohio considered a similar proposal, but it failed to advance, and no such mechanism exists in Pennsylvania, the two states where FirstEnergy’s closing plants operate. Pennsylvania appears to be constrained by political considerations. The election in November could be leaving legislators squeamish about advancing controversial energy legislation. (Environmental Progress, Washington Examiner, 4/10/2018)