The Nuclear Energy Institute’s president and chief executive officer, Marvin Fertel, made the following comments about Entergy Corp.’s announcement today that it will retire the Pilgrim nuclear energy facility no later than June 1, 2019.
“Even though five new reactors are being built in the Southeastern United States, it is disconcerting that the Pilgrim plant will be retired prematurely due to electricity market flaws that remain uncorrected in the Northeast. As Entergy’s announcement makes clear, the deck is stacked against Pilgrim financially despite its enormous value to New England. Beyond literally being an electricity powerhouse for four decades, it has significantly helped improve the region’s air quality and, to this day, has an important role to play in regional and national efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the electric sector.
“New Englanders are no strangers to extreme weather. Over the years, with rare exception, nuclear energy facilities have supported the area by reliably providing the electricity that can be the difference between life and death.
“Electricity consumers in New England will not immediately feel or see the impact of today’s announcement concerning Pilgrim, but they and policymakers at the state and federal levels should not take false comfort in that. There will be impacts to offset the loss of this around-the-clock source of carbon-free electricity.
“When Wisconsin’s Kewaunee nuclear plant was retired prematurely in 2013, we warned that market reforms are needed to ensure that the nation maintains a diversified portfolio of electricity options. We continued to sound those warnings when Entergy prematurely retired the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant a year ago. Today’s announcement is more proof that the reforms urgently needed in competitive electric markets are too slow in coming. Design flaws in wholesale markets such as New England continue to result in artificially low electricity and capacity prices. It is all the more unfortunate that, even though Pilgrim is among the largest if not the largest carbon-free power generator in Massachusetts, this important attribute is not valued by the state.
“The human tragedy is that hundreds of hard-working, highly skilled men and women employed at Pilgrim will lose their jobs, and that the power plant’s significant economic contribution in and around Massachusetts will be lost. One can only hope that the region’s electricity supplies can be reliably maintained over the long term without punishing consumers from electricity price swings. At present, that prospect is far from assured.”