It seems like every day we’re seeing stories like this one: Pilgrim’s owner pushes for market changes to help keep the nuclear plant open, indicating the nuclear industry’s public relations arm is hard at work pushing out its position that consumers should pay more for nuclear power than other sources of electricity just because it’s nuclear power. Not to criticize the reporters covering the issue–it IS news that the industry wants to rig the system for its benefit. This is a major campaign on the industry’s part; indeed, the industry’s basic survival–or at least the survival of its older and less-economical reactors–may depend on it. So far the industry has been vague about what kind of market changes it actually wants, and in the deregulated marketplace in which the most threatened reactors operate, the market is working pretty much as it is supposed to–providing ratepayers with the lowest-cost electricity. Still, it appears that the operators of the PJM grid, which covers much of the eastern third of the country, may be listening to the industry. Utility Dive reports today that a new PJM report indicates that “About 14,600 MW, or 8% of PJM’s installed capacity, is at risk of retiring early because of flaws in the market, according to the 2013 State of the Market report, released Thursday.” The story adds that, “This report is a signal that changes will be coming to PJM’s market rules.”
The changes proposed are complex and full of “utility-speak;” they’ll require some analysis, which we hope to provide soon. But any changes that artificially bolster nuclear power over renewables simply to avoid shutdown of aging, unreliable and expensive nuclear reactors must be fiercely resisted. The venues–before organizations like PJM and agencies like FERC–may be unfamiliar to most anti-nuclear and clean energy activists, but learning how to effectively engage in these venues is a task of immediate importance.
March 13, 2014
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