Watertown daily times competition drives nuclear industry to look for millions in subsidies electricity lesson plans 4th grade

###

New Jersey this week became the fourth state to offer subsidies to its aging nuclear plants, setting off a debate about whether taxpayers and rate payers should help the industry compete against natural gas power plants and ever cheaper wind and solar energy.

When it comes to nuclear power, “we need a new model without putting an extraordinary hidden tax on ratepayers,” Nora Brownell, who chaired the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission under President George W. Bush, said. She called the New Jersey move “uneconomic, unfair and unrealistic” and said “it will totally screw up electricity) markets.” Brownell, who has her own consulting firm now, said the New Jersey plan was “greed disguised as green.”

The broad energy measure Gov. Phil Murphy, D, signed on Wednesday allocating $280 million a year for the state’s three nuclear reactors also recommitted to developing wind and solar projects, pledging to reach 10 percent “clean energy” by 2050.

Nuclear power provides about 20 percent of total electricity in the United States. Yet more than a quarter of the nation’s 99 nuclear power reactors don’t make enough money to cover their operating costs, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

In Connecticut, the state’s lone nuclear plant, Dominion Energy’s Millstone plant, will be allowed to enter auctions for fixed-price contracts with state-regulated utilities. Millstone will be allowed to appeal for extra reimbursement for not emitting carbon dioxide and providing fuel diversity – essentially leveling the playing field with renewables.

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities will issue “zero emission credits” to assure that 40 percent of the state’s electricity continues to come from nuclear power. The board will have access to financial information to be certain that the ZEC payments are tailored to meet a plant’s actual financial need, the governor’s plan says. And plants would not be allowed to reduce staff size.

The effect will be to help three reactors located in relatively sparsely populated part of southwest Jersey along the Delaware River. PSEG Power owns a reactor at Hope Creek in Salem County. It also owns 57 percent of Salem 1 (completed in 1977) and Salem 2 (completed in 1981); Exelon owns 43 percent.

PSEG’s chief executive Ralph Izzo said recently that the nuclear reactors have been making money thanks to hedging contracts soon to expire. Such contracts amount to an educated bet on future prices. The company says that it might continue to make money on the plants, but at a rate so low that other investments would be more attractive. The company’s stock rose 1.5 percent the day Murphy signed the legislation.

“Preserving a nuclear plant usually costs pennies on the dollar to keep open as opposed to renewables,” said Exelon’s head of government relations Kathleen L. Barrón. “What the governor did today is say these are sources of low-cost emissions that we need to keep operating while we add solar and wind to our generation.”

New Jersey this week became the fourth state to offer subsidies to its aging nuclear plants, setting off a debate about whether taxpayers and rate payers should help the industry compete against natural gas power plants and ever cheaper wind and solar energy.

When it comes to nuclear power, “we need a new model without putting an extraordinary hidden tax on ratepayers,” Nora Brownell, who chaired the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission under President George W. Bush, said. She called the New Jersey move “uneconomic, unfair and unrealistic” and said “it will totally screw up electricity) markets.” Brownell, who has her own consulting firm now, said the New Jersey plan was “greed disguised as green.”

The broad energy measure Gov. Phil Murphy, D, signed on Wednesday allocating $280 million a year for the state’s three nuclear reactors also recommitted to developing wind and solar projects, pledging to reach 10 percent “clean energy” by 2050.

Nuclear power provides about 20 percent of total electricity in the United States. Yet more than a quarter of the nation’s 99 nuclear power reactors don’t make enough money to cover their operating costs, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

In Connecticut, the state’s lone nuclear plant, Dominion Energy’s Millstone plant, will be allowed to enter auctions for fixed-price contracts with state-regulated utilities. Millstone will be allowed to appeal for extra reimbursement for not emitting carbon dioxide and providing fuel diversity – essentially leveling the playing field with renewables.

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities will issue “zero emission credits” to assure that 40 percent of the state’s electricity continues to come from nuclear power. The board will have access to financial information to be certain that the ZEC payments are tailored to meet a plant’s actual financial need, the governor’s plan says. And plants would not be allowed to reduce staff size.

The effect will be to help three reactors located in relatively sparsely populated part of southwest Jersey along the Delaware River. PSEG Power owns a reactor at Hope Creek in Salem County. It also owns 57 percent of Salem 1 (completed in 1977) and Salem 2 (completed in 1981); Exelon owns 43 percent.

PSEG’s chief executive Ralph Izzo said recently that the nuclear reactors have been making money thanks to hedging contracts soon to expire. Such contracts amount to an educated bet on future prices. The company says that it might continue to make money on the plants, but at a rate so low that other investments would be more attractive. The company’s stock rose 1.5 percent the day Murphy signed the legislation.

“Preserving a nuclear plant usually costs pennies on the dollar to keep open as opposed to renewables,” said Exelon’s head of government relations Kathleen L. Barrón. “What the governor did today is say these are sources of low-cost emissions that we need to keep operating while we add solar and wind to our generation.”