PSEG warns more nuclear plants may close without more government help
When PSEG executive Ralph Izzo spoke at a recent conference for the company, the picture he painted of the state of nuclear energy was anything but glowing.
In a time when other energy providers like natural gas, solar, and wind power are receiving considerable amounts of government subsidies, without similar compensation for nuclear it could be bad news for the industry, Izzo said.
"We will not operate those plants long term if they are not earning their cost of capital," Izzo said according to a story on NJ Spotlight.
PSEG spokesman Paul Rosengren said nuclear plants around the country have already closed, or announced they will be closing all over the country. Rosengren said the closings are due to several factors including low gas and electric prices, and not being compensated for the industry's contribution to the energy market.
Rosengren said while there are "huge subsidies," at the federal and state levels for emission free energy sources like solar and wind, those same subsidies are not available for nuclear. "The 3 percent of clean energy that comes from those gets a large subsidy," he said. "The 97 percent of clean energy that comes from nuclear currently is not getting any value for that attribute."
And while the newer forms of energy technology are recognized for their efforts by the government, Rosengren said nuclear should be recognized as well. "Policymakers have made a decision that clean energy is something that it is okay for everyone to pay for," he said. "We think that nuclear should be recognized for the clean benefits that it brings."
Some of those benefits, according to Rosengren include not contributing to acid rain, smog, or climate change. "It is a clean source of energy and we feel that to remain competitive that it needs to get the same kind of benefits from government that we give to other clean energies."
Public Service Enterprise Group owns the Salem and Hope Creek power plans in Salem County.
Speaking at the conference, Izzo said the concerns are not a matter of "saber rattling," or "bluffing," and Rosengren said that while the impact may not be immediate, it is an important issue to remedy for the industry.
"There is a real risk that these plants will stop being cash positive, which means that they will be losing money if there is no long term hope for the price to either go up, or for some other form of compensation for some attributes that nuclear power bring then you can't keep these plants running."
In an effort to avoid any potential problems, Rosengren said companies across the industry have been working with regulators to find solutions. "Many people have real value for New Jersey for fuel diversity, for environment, for the economy, and that it is something worth looking at and trying to find a solution before it's a crisis," he said.
In addition to work being done in New Jersey, Rosengren said legislation has already been passed to help the nuclear industry in New York and Illinois, and that the topic is being discussed in Ohio and other states as well.
"Would we prefer a regional or national solution? Absolutely. But it appears right now that it's being left up to the states to come up with ways to protect the nuclear industry."
Rosengren said nuclear energy provides close to 50 percent of the electricity in the state and produces enough electricity to power 2.7 million homes 24 hours a day.
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Contact reporter Adam Hochron at 609-359-5326 or Adam.Hochron@townsquaremedia.com