Thursday, April 4, 2019

Sen. Aument Introduces Bipartisan Bill To Preserve PA's Nuclear Power Industry Also With $500M Annual Price Tag

On April 3, Sen. Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster) and other Senators introduced Senate Bill 510 that he said would help level the playing field for the nuclear industry, protect nearly 16,000 Pennsylvania jobs, prevent consumers from facing significantly higher long-term energy costs, and greatly assist the Commonwealth in meeting its carbon emission reduction goals.
Also co-sponsoring the bill are Senators Lisa Boscola (D-Lehigh), Minority Chair of the Senate Consumer Affairs and Professional Licensure Committee, John Yudichak (D-Luzerne), Minority Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon),  John Gordner (R-Columbia), and Elder Vogel (R-Beaver).
The bill would add nuclear energy to the state’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards (AEPS) Act which was created in 2004 to support the development of alternative energy sources in order to reduce carbon emissions and promote a cleaner environment.
“Nuclear energy is the most efficient, carbon-free producer in our system,” Sen. Aument said. “The loss of Pennsylvania’s nuclear industry will inevitably lead to increased costs for ratepayers, a less reliable and resilient electricity grid, and a loss of billions of dollars for the state’s economy.”
The state currently has five nuclear power plants, two of which have already announced that they will prematurely shut down – Three Mile Island in October 2019 and Beaver Valley in 2021.  
These premature shutdowns are part of a national trend, and based on independent analyses, the other three nuclear power plants in Pennsylvania are likely not far behind.
The shutdown process is irreversible, so the loss of the nuclear power plants now means that consumers would lose those benefits forever, Sen. Aument said.
Failing to preserve the nuclear energy industry would cost Pennsylvanians an estimated $4.6 billion annually, including $788 million in electricity cost increases to consumers and $2 billion in lost GDP.
“Making long-term energy decisions based exclusively on short-term marginal cost would be foolish,” Sen. Aument said. “Far too often, Harrisburg is short-sighted and kicks the can down the road when faced with difficult economic choices. We have an opportunity now to do the right thing for ratepayers by preserving the role of the nuclear industry, and avoid repeating the painful and expensive mistakes of the past.”
Sen. Aument emphasized that the legislation would treat nuclear energy the same as every other zero-carbon emission energy source in Pennsylvania, including solar, wind, and other alternative energy technologies.
Pennsylvania’s nuclear power plants currently generate 42 percent of the state’s electricity and provide 93 percent of the Commonwealth’s zero-carbon electricity.
“Powerful special interests have disingenuously branded any support for the nuclear industry as a ‘bailout,’ but in reality, current law stacks the deck heavily against Pennsylvania’s nuclear plants,” Sen. Aument said. “Including nuclear energy in the state’s alternative energy plans will help level the playing field for the industry and ensure its long-term viability in Pennsylvania’s marketplace while simultaneously protecting ratepayers from higher electricity bills down the road.”
Sen. Aument is a co-chair of the Nuclear Energy Caucus which issued a report in December detailing the impacts of the premature closure of Pennsylvania’s nuclear power plants.
Andrew Williams, Environmental Defense Fund, issued this statement in reaction to Sen. Aument's legislation--
The bill, like House Bill 11 (Mehaffie-R-Dauphin), lacks any plan to actually cut power sector carbon pollution in Pennsylvania. In addition, unlike House Bill 11, the Senate bill does not even include a provision to extinguish the subsidy if a carbon price is adopted.
Consequently, it does nothing to advance a durable, market-based solution to curb power sector emissions while Pennsylvania remains the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the nation. ­
The foundation of any sustainable, long-term energy strategy in Pennsylvania is a binding, declining limit on power sector carbon emissions. This approach fosters the type of flexible, low-cost solutions that cut pollution and spur deployment of zero-emission technologies.
"Pennsylvania’s energy sector is one of the dirtiest in the country, and it risks being left behind in the regional marketplace without a comprehensive approach to carbon pollution. A binding, declining limit on carbon pollution aligns with market-based principles and could drive growth of zero- carbon energy along with consumer savings. The current bill saddles consumers with costs and risks, with no guarantee of securing the carbon reductions Pennsylvania must achieve.”
House Hearings
The House Consumer Affairs Committee will hold a series of 4 hearings starting April 8 on House Bill 11 (Mehaffie-R-Lancaster) adding nuclear power plants to the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards to provide financial support to the industry.
The hearing will be held in Room 140 of the Main Capitol starting at 11:00.  Click Here to watch the hearing online.

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