5 States Now Have Programs to Help Struggling Nuclear Power Plants

Five states including Ohio have put programs in place to help nuclear power plant operators that are struggling.

5 States Now Have Programs to Help Struggling Nuclear Power Plants
Nuclear power plant encavolrab/iStock

Nuclear power plant companies in five states are getting what environmental groups view as a bailout, with the U.S. Energy Information Administration adding Ohio to the list as of July. 

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Five states now have programs on the books to help 

In a press release, the government agency reported that in late July Ohio joined Connecticut, Ilinois, New Jersey, and New York in implementing programs to provide financial compensation and other assistance to struggling nuclear power plant operators.

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The U.S. Energy Information Administration said 14 reactors in the five states are receiving assistance and account for 9% of the utility-scale generating capacity in the states and 13% of the country's nuclear generating capacity. 

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"Declining prices for electric power in wholesale markets have placed economic pressures on many nuclear power plants in the United States and led to several plant closures. Eight nuclear power plants have retired since 2013," wrote the government agency on its website. "The Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania closed at the end of September, and another five U.S. reactors are scheduled to retire by the end of 2025." 

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Some view them as bailouts 

What the government calls "subsidy programs" but others view as a bailout, vary from state to state, with some states facing a legal challenge to their initiatives. Most of the programs require utilities to buy from nuclear generators. The timing of the programs also varies from 6 years for Ohio's efforts and 12 years for New York. New York's plan is being challenged in federal court. 

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While supporters of nuclear energy argue it is cleaner than coal and natural gas there are a lot of downsides to this type of energy. For starters, it costs more than natural gas and the waste has to be stored forever. Accidents aren't common but they do happen such as the partial meltdown of Three Mile Island back in 1979 or Chernobyl in the 1980's.  Critics also argue that money going to help these struggling power plants may be better funding greener energy.  

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