Legislature, take action to save Three Mile Island
By Steve Letavic
Source: Middletown Press & Journal
The calendar changed from September to October without much fanfare. But it was significant for our community because, unless our state Legislature and governor fix broken energy policy, we are less than one year away from the Three Mile Island Generating Station’s permanent closure.
Unfortunately, current energy policy places nuclear energy at a disadvantage in Pennsylvania. The “clock is ticking” on a solution that will not only save 675 good-paying jobs in our community, but also protect thousands of jobs for other nuclear power plant employees and skilled laborers who work as contractors in plants across the state to keep them safely and efficiently running. Fixing our state’s broken energy policy would also keep our air clean and ensure the reliability of our power grid.
Three Mile Island has been a tremendous corporate citizen in our community. It brings valuable business to Londonderry Township and the midstate region. The plant pays more than $1 million annually in taxes to Dauphin County, Lower Dauphin School District and Londonderry Township. TMI is also a very generous neighbor, contributing more than $300,000 every year to local charities. I have seen firsthand how the generosity makes a difference in our community.
I have also talked to the leaders at TMI and have met many of the young employees who are just starting their careers in the nuclear industry. They are dedicated professionals and are active in our neighborhoods. These folks don’t want to take jobs in other states. They enjoy living right here for the same reasons many of us do.
TMI’s closing will have a negative impact on more than just employees. At a recent rally in Middletown, local business owners spoke about the devastating impact the closing of the plant will have. If our state leaders do the right thing, next September TMI will refuel the plant and we will once again see 1,500 supplemental workers stay in our local hotels, eat in our restaurants, and pay state and local taxes. If no action is taken, the plant will permanently close and we will lose thousands of permanent and supplemental jobs forever.
While this issue has a very immediate impact on the region, it also carries statewide implications. Nuclear power produces about 40 percent of all of the electricity in Pennsylvania and is by far the largest source of pollutant-free, zero-emission power. For example, TMI alone produces more zero-emission electricity than all of our state’s renewable electricity combined!
However, the entire industry in Pennsylvania is at risk. FirstEnergy Solutions has announced the premature closing of its Beaver Valley plant near Pittsburgh. Other nuclear plants could face a similar fate.
The good news is that Pennsylvania can learn from other states. New York, Illinois and New Jersey have adopted Zero-Emissions Certificate programs (similar to credits other carbon-free sources, such as wind and solar, receive) and have been able to keep nuclear plants operating and their air cleaner.
On behalf of the more than 1,000 members of the Clean Jobs for Pennsylvania coalition, I am calling on the state Legislature and governor to take action to keep TMI and our state’s nuclear industry operating for a better Pennsylvania. The clock is ticking on a solution.