Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Op-Ed: Nuclear Energy-A Keystone For Pennsylvania’s Economy And Environment

By: Sen. Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster), Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne), Rep. Becky Corbin (R-Chester), Rep. Rob Matzie (D-Allegheny) Co-Chairs of the PA Nuclear Energy Caucus

Pennsylvania’s energy history is a rich landscape of innovation and technological breakthroughs that have helped advance our Commonwealth and the country.
From its earliest founding days, the Commonwealth has pioneered energy sources that have helped the state grow and prosper.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in Shippingport, Pennsylvania where Duquesne Light Company started the Shippingport Atomic Power Station in 1957 - a first-of-its kind nuclear power generating facility designed solely for peacetime utility use.
From those early beginnings and in the decades that followed, Pennsylvania supported the nuclear industry as it became a foundation for energy grid reliability, economic vitality and carbon-free electricity.
Today, Pennsylvania’s five nuclear power plants generate a staggering 35 percent of the state’s electricity, employ thousands of people and contribute billions of dollars in the state through taxes, payroll and direct and indirect spending.
Pennsylvanians don’t always give thought to where the power comes from, as long as the lights come on when we flick the switch.  Perhaps more importantly, we don’t always consider what would happen if one form of electricity supply just went away.
We want to make sure that members of the General Assembly and others understand the value and importance of nuclear power.
That is why we have joined together – Democrats and Republicans – in a bipartisan, bicameral fashion to launch the Nuclear Energy Caucus.  We believe that the unique role that nuclear power plays and the benefits it offers to Pennsylvania need to be recognized and more easily understood.
Nuclear energy is a clean, safe, reliable and affordable source of electricity that helps power the economy, and achieve Pennsylvania’s environmental goals.  
For example, nuclear stations support more than 15,600 direct and secondary full-time jobs, have an annual payroll of $360 million, and lead to about $81 million in tax revenue from secondary/induced economic activity from plant and employee activities.
The nuclear energy industry also purchases more than $1.8 billion of materials, services and fuel from more than 4,150 companies in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania’s nuclear plants contribute approximately $2.36 billion to the state’s gross domestic product (GDP).
Additionally, nuclear power plants prevent substantial emissions from CO2, SO2, and NOx.  Average annual CO2 emissions would be about 52 million tons greater absent the generation from Pennsylvania nuclear plants.
This Caucus will provide members with an opportunity to better learn, recognize and support the zero carbon emission qualities of nuclear energy, which coupled with its ability to provide baseload, or continuous, capacity make it an incredibly beneficial form of electricity.
Our collective goal is to have a continuing, ongoing dialogue about Pennsylvania’s nuclear assets.
As we look around the country, there is little doubt that nuclear energy sources – like many other resources – are struggling.  
Since 2013, five nuclear stations have ceased power production and begun decommissioning, with another seven plants already announced that they plan to close by 2019, in addition to two other plants planning to shutter four more reactors by 2025.
All of the events, coupled with Pennsylvania’s status as a top nuclear power producer, invite us to have a timely – and important – discussion on the valuable role that nuclear power plays in the Commonwealth’s economy and environment.
To that end, we look forward to working on policies that promote all of Pennsylvania’s energy resources, including nuclear energy.
(Photo: Exelon, Three Mile Island, Dauphin County)
Related Story:
Feature- Remembering The Accident At Three Mile Island, 3:53 a.m., March 28, 1979

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