Exelon Corporation, the owners of the nuclear power plant in Middletown, Pennsylvania says they will have to shutter the plant unless the state can provide subsidies, according to NPR.org.
The power plant has been unprofitable for five years in a row. Exelon Corp announced in a press release last week that it failed to auction off future energy production from Three Mile Island for the third year in a row.
The company cited the challenge facing nuclear power plants in the U.S. with receiving no compensation in the way of subsidies as do other renewable energy sources. The company cited New York and Illinois as “two states who have enacted innovative policies that fairly compensate nuclear and renewable energy for their environmental attributes.”
But nuclear and coal-fired power plants just can’t compete with natural gas or renewable sources of energy. There are 99 licensed nuclear power plants in the United States. Five has been shut down in the last five years.
“Nuclear fuel is still cheaper than natural gas fuel, but nuclear power plants have much higher maintenance costs,” said Jaimin Patel, an analyst with Bloomberg Intelligence, reports CNN.
Exelon and other nuclear power plant operators contend that zero-carbon nuclear plants are much better than natural gas or coal at fighting climate change, a well-known point in their favor. But in Pennsylvania, there is opposition because of the potential for higher utility bills.
Opponents say nuclear power is riskier than other energy sources and more expensive than solar or wind energy. And environmental groups are mixed on their opinions, with some saying nuclear power is not a renewable. In the case of New York and Illinois providing subsidies, those states had to redefine “clean energy” to include nuclear power.
Further reading on nuclear power in the U.S.
Energy watchdog sees U.S. nuclear capacity, generation dropping
Scientists raise concerns over potential nuclear disaster in U.S.