The Three Mile Island power plant in Pennsylvania, USA, will close in 2019 unless it receives financial support from the state, forty years after it was the site of the worst nuclear accident in US history. Low natural gas prices are making the cost of nuclear power uncompetitive, the plant’s owner Exelon says.
The name of the plant has been synonymous with public fears over the risks associated with nuclear power since the plant suffered a partial meltdown in 1979, and the facts that no one died and a federal review found minimal health effects in the 2 million people who lived near the plant, did nothing to allay those fears.
Now Exelon Corp said it will close the facility by September 2019, unless the state adopts rules to compensate the company for benefits that Exelon says nuclear power provides.
Chris Crane, Exelon president and CEO, has urged Pennsylvania "to preserve its nuclear energy facilities and the clean, reliable energy and good-paying jobs they provide."
Low natural gas prices have helped keep power prices low for years, making it difficult for nuclear reactors to compete with gas-fired generators in deregulated power markets in the USA’s northeast and Midwest regions. As a result six reactors hae been shut down for economic reasons, and before their licences expired, in California, Florida, Nebraska, Vermont and Wisconsin, and it is likely that at least six more will be shut down during the next five years.