Ironworkers Press Releases

New Legislation Aims to Keep Nuclear Power in PA
Monday, March 11, 2019

In an effort to prevent the premature and permanent closure of Pennsylvania’s nuclear power plants, Rep. Tom Mehaffie (R-Dauphin) introduced legislation updating the Pennsylvania Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards (AEPS) Act to recognize nuclear energy for its significant contribution to the state’s zero-carbon energy production. Providing the backdrop for the press conference, Ironworkers Local 404 welcomed Mehaffie, fellow members of the building trades, plant owners, contractors and members of the community to the Hall to share highlights of House Bill 11, Keep Powering Pennsylvania Act, with members of the media.

Pennsylvania’s nuclear power plants generate 42 percent of the Commonwealth’s electricity and provide 93 percent of the Commonwealth’s zero-carbon electricity. However, due to the current energy structure, nuclear energy has been excluded from Pennsylvania’s AEPS program, which recognizes 16 other forms of electricity generation. 

Keep Powering Pennsylvania Act introduces a new, third tier of AEPS, recognizing the value that all zero-emission electric generation resources provide, including carbon-free, nuclear energy. As is the case with the existing AEPS law, Tier III will contain a structure that requires the purchasing of credits. 

“While much discussion will occur in the coming months about costs, the cost of doing nothing is $4.6 billion, including $788 million annually in higher electricity costs to consumers, whereas the cost of this bill is approximately $500 million – that’s an 8-to-1 benefit-to-cost ratio,” Mehaffie said.

Kerry Zettlemoyer, Business Manager for Ironworkers Local 404, referred to Mehaffie’s new legislation as a common-sense solution which works for Pennsylvanians. “On average, this local sends approximately 50 Ironworkers whenever there is a scheduled refueling outage, and we service seven of the nine nuclear reactors (across the five nuclear power plants) in Pennsylvania. When people talk about the job losses that will occur should these nuclear plants be allowed to close prematurely, I can tell you first-hand our members will realize those losses.”

Exelon Corporation announced plans to shut down Three Mile Island (TMI) by September 2019 if current market flaws are not addressed. In total, Pennsylvania’s five nuclear power plants account for nearly 16,000 full-time jobs and provide $69 million in net state tax revenues annually. 

Watch the entire press conference and click here to read the bill.