Three Mile Island

Infamous power plant likely to close by 2019

The accident that occurred at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant on March 28, 1979 is remembered by many as a great scare, as well as the most dangerous nuclear meltdown in United States history. It ushered in an era of of stricter regulations on nuclear power generation and effectively halted the construction of any new nuclear plants in the country. Now—as nuclear power plants nationwide continue to be shuttered—Three Mile Island’s operator Exelon announced last week that it plans to close the plant by 2019.

Brass tacks: the Dauphin County, Pennsylvania (close to Harrisburg) plant employs 675 people and has not registered profits for the past five years.

Exelon has tried to auction off future power production from the site for the past three years, and it announced last week it had struck out in attaining a bidder.

Although the plant has a license from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to operate until 2034, Exelon can choose to shut it down before then.

It currently generates 93% of Pennsylvania’a emissions-free electricity, according to Exelon.

The only possible savior scenario would come from state subsidies, such as those recently enacted in Illinois and New York. In those states, billions in state funding have been earmarked because of restructuring that considers nuclear power to be a form of renewable energy. While nuclear power does not produce carbon emissions, many environmentalists argue that it is still not renewable. It also comes with a heightened risk factor and is more expensive than wind, solar, or hydro power.

“Today is a difficult day, not just for the 675 talented men and women who have dedicated themselves to operating Three Mile Island safely and reliably every day, but also for their families, the communities and customers who depend on this plant to produce clean energy and support local jobs,” Exelon CEO Chris Crane said in a statement.

 

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