When nuclear power plants close
Two analysts at the Brattle Group have reinforced the argument for keeping open the Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear power plants. They include in their assessment, released last week, the Beaver Valley nuclear plant, also owned by FirstEnergy, and the Three Mile Island plant, owned by Exelon. These four plants in Ohio and Pennsylvania, slated to shut down, generate 39 million megawatt hours of zero-carbon electricity each year.
So closing the plants means the loss of a massive amount of clean energy, just as the country, and the rest of the planet, should be thinking about how to maximize energy sources that do not emit the greenhouse gases fueling climate change.
The analysts performed their assessment for Nuclear Matters, an advocacy group for nuclear power. That may persuade some people to turn away. Actually, there’s nothing tricky here. The numbers are the numbers.
Nuclear power plants have suffered financially because of an abundance of cheap natural gas. It follows that once the plants close, natural gas largely will fill the void. The result? An additional 21 million metric tons of carbon emissions each year. Brattle notes this is the equivalent of adding 4.5 million cars to the road — or a nearly 50 percent increase in the number of cars in Ohio and Pennsylvania.
More, the analysts project a $1.1 billion increase in annual social costs, stemming from the additional emissions of carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and particulate matter.
What about the promise and reality of renewable energy?