Exelon says Three Mile Island to close in 2019

MIDDLETOWN, Pa. (WHTM) – The owner of Three Mile Island says it will shut down the nuclear power station in two years unless the state steps in to help.

Tuesday’s announcement from Exelon Corporation came a week after TMI again failed to sell its electricity to the mid-Atlantic power grid for the 2020-2021 planning year.

An Exelon statement says without needed policy reforms, it will prematurely retire TMI on or about September 30, 2019.

“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 President and CEO Chris Crane said in the statement.

The Illinois-based company says TMI hasn’t turned a profit in five years because of low wholesale power prices and the “lack of federal or Pennsylvania energy policies that value zero-emissions nuclear energy.”

Cheap natural gas from the Marcellus Shale field has been flooding the power market. The nuclear power industry has been lobbying lawmakers in Pennsylvania and other states for a financial rescue.

Exelon announced last year that it would close two nuclear power stations in Illinois and two others in upstate New York. Those plans were called off after lawmakers in both states voted to raise electricity rates to bail out the power plants.

“Like New York and Illinois before it, the Commonwealth has an opportunity to take a leadership role by implementing a policy solution to preserve its nuclear energy facilities and the clean, reliable energy and good-paying jobs they provide,” Crane added. “We are committed to working with all stakeholders to secure Pennsylvania’s energy future and will do all we can to support the community, the employees, and their families during this difficult period.”

Exelon said it will cancel 2019 fuel purchases and make permanent shutdown notifications to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission within 30 days.

The company said TMI directly employs 675 workers and contracts another 1,500 workers when it shuts down for refueling. It said the power station also provides more than $1 million in state property taxes and more than $300,000 in local community giving each year.

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