NJ plant owners suspend funding pending legislation

05 March 2018

The co-owners of the Salem nuclear power plant in New Jersey have suspended funding for future capital projects at the site after legislation to recognise the attributes of nuclear power plants faced delays in the state Senate. Similar action may be taken at the Hope Creek power plant.

Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG) on 2 March notified the US Securities and Exchange Commission that the plant's co-owners, Exelon and PSEG Nuclear, had discussed the ongoing funding of capital projects at the plant. The two-unit pressurised water reactor plant is 57% owned by PSEG, with Exelon owning the remaining 43%.

"As a result of recent postponements in the New Jersey legislative process regarding a bill that would sufficiently value the attributes of nuclear generating stations serving New Jersey and the decline in the market energy revenues, Exelon Generation and PSEG Nuclear agreed, at a co-owners meeting held on February 28, 2018, to cancel the funding of future capital projects at the Salem generating station that are not required to meet Nuclear Regulatory Commission or other regulatory requirements or that are not required to ensure its safe operation," PSEG said.

"PSEG Nuclear anticipates that similar actions may be appropriate at its wholly-owned Hope Creek generating station in New Jersey as well, and the assessment of this is continuing," the company added.

New Jersey's four nuclear reactors - the single-unit Hope Creek and twin-unit Salem plants, and Exelon's single-unit Oyster Creek - together generate 38.5% of the state's electricity. PSEG previously said that without intervention Hope Creek and Salem were expected to be unable to continue operating economically and might have to close. Oyster Creek is already scheduled for early retirement in October, following changes to state water use rules that would have required the construction of new cooling towers at the plant.

Draft legislation to establish a zero emission certificate programme, which would credit nuclear power plants for their non-emission of carbon dioxide, was passed by Senate and Assembly committees on 23 February. Bill 877 was considered by the Senate on 26 February but failed to progress to a vote. According to NJ Spotlight, the bill's sponsor, Senate President Stephen Sweeney, said the bill requires further review. The bill also includes requirements to examine electricity storage, support for solar and wind energy initiatives, and measures to reduce electricity consumption.

PSEG said funding of capital projects at Salem may be restored "when and if legislation is enacted in New Jersey that sufficiently values the attributes of nuclear generation and Salem benefits from such legislation".

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News