- Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commissioner (PUC) Andrew Place said he personally opposes Senate Bill 510, which would declare nuclear energy as a carbon-free energy source, in a memo issued to state lawmakers on Thursday.
- Adding nuclear energy to the state's Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard would raise monthly bills by $2.36-$4.50 for residential customers and $1,216-$1,459 for industrial customers, according to the commissioner's memo.
- Place's opposition comes on the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court's recent decision to decline to take up two cases that challenged the legality of nuclear energy subsidies in New York and Illinois.
As more states take nuclear energy policy into their own hands in the face of federal inaction, opposition against those measures gains traction. Industrial energy consumers in Pennsylvania have also voiced their opposition to the measure.
In a letter to lawmakers, the Industrial Energy Consumers of Pennsylvania said the potential increase in electricity prices would push them to cut jobs, a concern Place echoed in his opposition memo.
"While human health and environmental quality; job creation and retention; and maintaining a robust tax base are all cornerstone public policy goals, this bill, in its current form, is far from the least cost mechanism to achieve these goals," Place wrote.
The commissioner criticized the measure's high cost burden for ratepayers, which based on PUC estimates could be anywhere from $458.7 million to $551 million annually. He also pointed to the fact that Exelon's Three Mile Island plant and FirstEnergy's Beaver Valley plant are scheduled to retire in the near future.
While the other four PUC commissioners refrained from taking a side on the issue, they noted in a statement to the state Senate that only Three Mile Island is in financial trouble at this time. Exelon, the owner of TMI, did not address the plant's future or its financial situation.
"Exelon Generation strongly encourages the timely passage of this bipartisan legislation, which will put Pennsylvania on a path to a clean energy future, preserve 16,000 good-paying jobs and save consumers $788 million a year in energy costs," the company said in statement to Utility Dive.
FirstEnergy did not respond to a request for comment.
Place said that while other states have passed similar legislation, they have only subsidized a portion of their nuclear generation, required plants to show financial necessity and coupled those subsidies with support for renewable energy and energy efficiency.
"I do not believe Senate Bill 510, as currently drafted, is just and reasonable for Pennsylvania's ratepayers, and encourage consideration of alternatives for addressing the issue," Place wrote.
The state House of Representatives is considering a similar measure, House Bill 11, which would subsidize the nuclear industry.