The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) said on 27 April it had approved three-year Zero Emission Certificates (ZECs) for the US Hope Creek, Salem One, and Salem Two nuclear power plants. Totalling $300 million, the certificates ensure that the plants, which supply the State with over 90% of in-state carbon-free generation and 37.5% of its overall in-state energy supply will remain operational.
“Today’s decision prioritises public health and our environment by ensuring emissions will not go up as a result of losing nuclear power. Keeping the plants running will also maintain the stability of New Jersey’s electricity grid and support over 1,000 good-paying jobs, both of which are central in helping the State’s economy recover from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said NJBPU President Joseph L Fiordaliso. “Awarding ZECs to these three plants will underpin a stable, reliable state in the near-term, and Governor Murphy’s commitment to a clean energy future in the longer term.”
The ZEC Law, which the New Jersey Legislature passed in 2018, directs the Board to consider the “moral imperative” of the State investing in carbon-free energy sources. It also shows that closing the plants would lead to “a substantial increase in emissions of several serious pollutants, and associated adverse public health and environmental impacts.” In 2019, the Board approved a first round of ZECs, citing the urgency of combatting the threat of climate change.
PSEG owns the Hope Creek plant and, with Exelon, the Salem One and Two plants. The collection of funds to pay for the credits the Board approved today will begin immediately and will amount to approximately $100 million in annual subsidies for each plant for three years, at the rate of $0.004 per kilowatt hour. At the end of three years, the Board will reevaluate the programme, and if more money is collected than needed, those funds will be returned to ratepayers. Additionally, if the companies receive funding via other state or federal subsidies in the future, those funds will be reconciled against the ZECs and returned to the ratepayer.
PSEG stated: “We are pleased with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities’ unanimous decision to extend the ZECs at the current rate to help support New Jersey’s largest supply of carbon-free electricity. The BPU’s actions today helped the environment, saved jobs and avoided higher energy costs. We appreciate the BPU’s detailed review and consideration of PSEG Nuclear’s ZEC applications.”