Don't nuke consumers' wallets by bailing out uncompetitive power plants


Make text smaller Make text larger





To the Editor:

In mid-April, New Jersey lawmakers passed a bill that could raise residents' electric bills by $300 million each year. Legislators want to use the funds to bail out two nuclear power plants owned by Public Services Enterprise Group, the state's largest utility company.

PSEG, which operates many lucrative natural gas-fueled plants and recorded nearly $1.6 billion in profits in 2017, threatened to shut down its nuclear plants unless the state subsidizes them. Utilities in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Connecticut have threatened similar shutdowns.

Lawmakers shouldn't give in to such extortion. There's no valid reason to prop up uncompetitive power sources.

Nuclear firms argue the subsidies are needed to bolster national security. Since nuclear plants store their fuel on-site, they're supposedly more reliable during emergencies than pipeline-dependent natural gas plants. At least that's what utilities say.

These claims are hogwash.

It's a myth that nuclear and coal plants have a unique ability to store fuel on-site. A report from the Brattle Group, an economic consulting firm, notes that "some natural gas-fired plants have the capacity to burn distillate oil stored in tanks on-site in the event of a natural gas supply interruption."

In any case, on-site storage doesn't make our energy grid significantly more secure. A recent Department of Energy report concludes that a lack of on-site fuel is a "relatively infrequent cause of generator outages."

That's because natural gas is easy to transport via pipelines. Technicians can quickly ramp up the flow of gas to power plants if electricity demand spikes or a different generating facility has to go offline.

America has steadily increased its reliance on natural gas in recent years. In 2007, natural gas-fired plants generated 897 million megawatt hours of electricity. In 2016, they generated 1.38 billion megawatt hours — a 54 percent increase.

Meanwhile, our reliance on nuclear power has stagnated. In 2007, nuclear plants generated 806 million megawatt hours of electricity. In 2016, they also generated 806 million megawatt hours.

America now generates more power from natural gas than any other source, even coal. At least nine states derive more than half their electricity from natural gas.

These momentous shifts in the energy market haven't caused chronic blackouts or wild price swings, as some natural gas skeptics feared.

For the sake of argument, let's pretend the naysayers are right, and that nuclear plants are uniquely indispensable. If our national security truly depended on propping up unprofitable nuclear plants to ensure a diversified electricity supply, shouldn't the government just nationalize the plants?

After all, a government takeover of the uncompetitive nuclear sector would spread the costs evenly across all taxpayers, rather than concentrate the burden in specific states. And it would allow the government to devote adequate resources to maintenance, security, and upgrades. A for-profit company, by contrast, would have to worry about staying within budget and keeping Wall St. happy.

Shockingly, nuclear power executives aren't keen on a federal takeover. They just want the government to shower them with subsidies.

That's a raw deal for consumers and taxpayers. Lawmakers shouldn't fall for the nuclear industry's ruse.

Kerri Toloczko, Senior Policy Fellow

Institute for Liberty



Make text smaller Make text larger

Comments

Pool Rules



MUST READ NEWS

Clark Fredericks overcome childhood trauma to inspire others
While he was sitting in prison awaiting trial for the murder of the man who had abused him throughout his childhood, Clark Fredericks had a revelation.
“I’m...

Read more »
Image

Law Day to focus on Freedom of Speech
President Dwight D. Eisenhower proclaimed May 1, 1958, as the first Law Day to mark the nation’s commitment to the rule of law. Every year on this day we reflect on the...
Read more »

Bar Association to host Law Day
The Sussex County Bar Association will welcome the public to the annual Law Day celebration on Wednesday, May 1, at 7 p.m., at the historic Sussex County Court House in Newton.
Read more »

Hospice honors those committed to mission
In 1980 Julia and Joseph Quinlan founded Karen Ann Quinlan Hospice in loving memory of their daughter.
April 15 will marked the 39th year as the preeminent hospice for...

Read more »
Image

VIDEOS



Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Community Newspapers



MOST READ

Local News
Carcinogens found at dump site
  • Apr 16, 2019
Local News
Farm to host barn sale
  • Apr 18, 2019
Local News
Therapy dog at the library
  • Apr 18, 2019
Obituaries
Kevin Caffrey
  • Apr 18, 2019
Local News
Zookeeper brings laughs, spring babies
  • Apr 18, 2019

MOST COMMENTED



Find more about Weather in Lafayette, NJ