By State Rep. Tarah Toohil (R-Luzerne)
This week in Harrisburg, the House Consumer Affairs Committee held a public hearing to gather testimony on the pros and cons regarding the Keep Powering Pennsylvania Act (House Bill 11
), legislation that would preserve Pennsylvania’s nuclear energy industry and prevent the pending closure of two of the state’s nuclear power plants.
Among those who testified was Tom Ridge, a former governor of Pennsylvania and first secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. He spoke about the importance of keeping nuclear plants viable to ensure the diversity of the country’s energy resources and to maintain national security.
There were others who spoke against the legislation over concern it would cost ratepayers $500 million a year. They described the measure as a bailout of Pennsylvania’s struggling nuclear energy industry.
House Bill 11, which I am co-sponsoring, is designed to save nearly 16,000 full-time jobs at the Commonwealth’s five nuclear power plants and keep electricity prices stable. The legislation would do that by updating the Pennsylvania Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards (AEPS) Act to recognize nuclear energy for its significant contribution to the state’s zero-carbon energy production.
Even though nuclear power plants generate 42% of the state’s electricity and provide 93% of its zero-carbon electricity, nuclear energy has been excluded from the AEPS program, which currently recognizes 16 other forms of electricity generation, including wind and solar.
Adding nuclear energy to the list would create a new revenue source for the industry due to the value provided by carbon-free nuclear energy. Under the bill, electric companies would be required to purchase 50 percent of their electricity from alternative energy sources, including nuclear.
The Susquehanna Nuclear Plant in Salem Township is included in the 116th Legislative District, which I represent. Last week, we toured the facility to learn firsthand about the significant role it plays in our regional economy. I am a strong supporter of House Bill 11 because it would keep the plant open and preserve 700 jobs.
I am also a proponent of nuclear power, which is a clean and safe energy source that has suffered from an image problem for decades. Our state needs to maintain its diversity and support all forms of energy including coal, natural gas, wind, solar and nuclear. Nuclear is the only producer that is able to sustain our power grid during vortex events, both hot and polar.
Three more hearings are planned on House Bill 11 in the weeks ahead as the House works to thoroughly vet this important and controversial piece of legislation. If you have an opinion on the bill, I encourage you to please send it to me via email at email@example.com
Representative Tarah Toohil
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Contact: Rep. Toohil’s Office