This winter has been harsh for New Jerseyans, and it’s not over yet. There have been below normal temperatures in the teens and even below the teens on some days. Already many New Jerseyans are struggling to pay their heating bills. Besides this frigid weather, there may be even more bad news. If nuclear plants close in New Jersey, the energy bill will rise even more. Closing these nuclear power plants will move New Jersey in the wrong direction. They provide clean energy and employ thousands of people.
Since it is the age of global warming, we need to cut down on the use of fossil fuels. These emissions pollute our towns and cities. All that air pollution increases the rates of asthma, especially in children. As most of us know, carbon emissions contribute to climate change. Nuclear power plants produce less greenhouse gas emissions thus improving our health and quality of life.
If these nuclear power plants cease to exist, then more natural gas plants and coal plants may open to replace them. Since natural gas plants and coal plants produce more greenhouse gas emissions, they will pollute our towns and cities even more. Do we really want New Jerseyans to be exposed to even more smog?
In addition to having harmful environmental effects, closing down these nuclear power plants will hurt New Jersey’s economy. According to a study by the Brattle Group, shutting down nuclear power plants would cost 5,800 jobs. If these people lose their jobs, they will not get them back. In several interviews, Ralph Izzo, who is the CEO of PSEG, said that once a nuclear plant closes it can never be reopened.
The Salem Power Plant and the Hope Creek Power Plant are two plants that may close in New Jersey. Both of these plants are located in Salem County and owned by PSEG. They are both situated on the same site known as the Salem-Hope Creek Company, which is the amplest nuclear generating facility in the Eastern US and the second biggest in the entire nation.
There is hope of salvaging Salem Power Plant and Hope Creek Power Plant, but Oyster Creek Plant will definitely close down. Located in Ocean County, New Jersey, Oyster Creek Plant is owned and operated by the Exelon Corporation. Even though it is licensed to operate until April 9, 2029, it is scheduled to close on December 31, 2019.
Despite all the bad news, there is good news. These power plants can be salvaged with the support from the government and the people of New Jersey. The New Jersey government is currently working on a bill to keep the Salem Power Plant and Hope Creek Power Plant operating for at least 20 years. Without this safety net, Izzo will be forced to close these power plants that produce cleaner energy. If this bill is passed, there will be a slight increase in our energy bill between $30 and $40 more per year. If the nuclear power plants close for good, then energy bills will go up astronomically in New Jersey. According to a study by the Brattle group, public utility rates will increase by $400 million annually over the next ten years if these power plants cease operating.
Other states where nuclear power plants were in danger of closing were New York, Illinois and Connecticut. State legislatures provided a safety net to prevent their closures. Hopefully, the same will be true in New Jersey.