Salem and Hope Creek Nuclear Generating Stations

The Salem and Hope Creek nuclear power plants in Lower Alloways Creek, Salem County, are the only two in New Jersey.

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities approved a Zero Emission Credit program last week for nuclear power plants that will close within three years without financial help from ratepayers.

It also approved an application process for nuclear plant owners and immediately opened the application window, which will close Dec. 19, according to BPU.

Electric utilities will charge ratepayers an extra $0.004 per kilowatt hour if a subsidy is approved, and pass the money to the nuclear plants. That will amount to about $31 to $41 per year for the average residential ratepayer, according to estimates. It’s expected to raise up to $300 million for the plants, which some environmentalists are calling a waste of money that could be spent on alternative energy development for wind and solar.

The nonprofit Clean Water Action criticized the board after the vote.

“This turkey was baked before Thanksgiving,” said Amy Goldsmith, N.J. state director of Clean Water Action. “Independent third-party experts were denied critical information, and ratepayer advocates’ and grid operators’ advice was ignored.”

Clean Water Action also said BPU’s definition of clean energy ignored radioactive waste, radioactive emissions, thermal pollution, excessive water diversions and other environmental costs of nuclear plants.

Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation in May that required the BPU to set up such a program, to help maintain the state’s nuclear energy supply.

The state’s three remaining reactors in two plants in Salem County contribute about 32 percent of the state’s electric capacity, the largest source of carbon-free energy for the state, according to BPU. Before the Oyster Creek nuclear plant in Lacey Township closed in September, 40 percent of New Jersey’s energy came from nuclear power.

PSEG, which owns the Salem plants, has said it will close soon without subsidies because of competition from cheap natural gas plants.

Joseph F. Accardo Jr., deputy general counsel and chief regulatory officer for PSEG, said at a BPU hearing in Atlantic City last month the company’s detailed financial records will show that the Hope Creek, Salem 1 and Salem 2 nuclear plants will close within three years without the subsidies. They are licensed through 2036, 2040 and 2046, respectively, according to the company.

The board said it will conduct a thorough and extensive application process, and that nuclear generating stations applying for ZECs must demonstrate “a clear need for these credits, ensuring ratepayer funding is allocated appropriately.”

A list of those eligible to receive ZECs, including their ranking, will be presented to the board for approval at its April 19, 2019, agenda meeting, a board spokesman said. Only those nuclear generating facilities that have sufficiently demonstrated a need for ZECs will receive the credits.

To determine eligibility, applicants must answer questions and provide supporting documents, studies, certifications and/or narratives, according to the board. They also must be licensed by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission through 2030, demonstrate a significant and material contribution to New Jersey air quality, demonstrate anticipated plant shutdown within three years due to its financial situation and certify that the facility does not receive subsidies from other entities or agencies.

Contact: 609-272-7219

Twitter @MichelleBPost

Staff Writer

In my first job after college got paid to read the New York Times and summarize articles for an early online data base. First reporting job was with The Daily Record in Parsippany. I have also worked in nonprofits, and have been with The Press since 1990.

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