Energy market: If state seeks to save TMI, officials should consider placing a price on carbon emissions
Officials have also said the facility has lost tens of millions of dollars per year for seven years.
Essentially, running Three Mile Island just isn’t economically feasible. News that the plant is being scheduled for closure has sparked a lot of talk of how to save it — in what has been characterized as a possible taxpayer subsidized bailout.
But the representatives from the company that manages the electric grid in Pennsylvania and surrounding states — as well as Pennsylvania’s competitive wholesale electricity market — said that a subsidy for nuclear probably isn’t the best option.
Instead, said Stuart Bresler, a vice president at PJM, if state policy makers decided to ‘save’ TMI because it is a non-carbon emitting resource, putting a price on carbon is a better solution than subsidizing a single type of power generation.
But the decision to do so, “is not for PJM to say, that’s for the policy makers,’ Bresler said.
Subsidizing a single type of power generation, he argued, could actually damage the competitive market place. “It really is a second-best solution,” he said.
Placing a price on carbon emissions would require an act of the state — or ideally a consortium of states — to put in place. It would allow nuclear to be more competitive, and could have a side benefit of encouraging more innovation in the energy generation market place, PJM officials said.
From a reliability standpoint, however, the closure of Three Mile Island won’t turn-off anyone’s lights. PJM currently maintains a power generation reserve of around 20 percent, more than enough to absorb the plants retirement, even as additional generation assets — primarily natural gas — continue to come online.