Energy Harbor seeks to continue operations at Beaver Valley nuclear power station the US. (Credit: Pixabay/Markus Distelrath)Energy Harbor Corp has announced that its Beaver Valley nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania, will remain open.

Beaver Valley's two pressurised water reactors began operation in 1976 (unit 1) and 1987 (unit 2), and they are currently licensed to operate until 2036 and 2047.

FirstEnergy Solutions (FES), which became Energy Harbor in February after completing a Chapter 11 bankruptcy restructuring, had told state regulators in 2018 that it would close the plant in 2021 because it was no longer economical to operate.

The decision to keep Beaver Valley open came after Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf said the state would join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which aims to cap and decrease carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the power generation. RGGI currently includes ten US states.

Energy Harbor’s emergence from bankruptcy was supported by Ohio lawmakers, who approved an 85-cent monthly surcharge that starts in 2021 for residential ratepayers to keep the company’s Ohio nuclear stations operational.   

Before its bankruptcy, FES had indicated that without subsidies it would have to close its nuclear plants in both Ohio and Pennsylvania. It had notified state and federal regulators of plans to close the 908MWe Davis-Besse reactor in Ohio, in 2020 as well as the 1268MWe Perry nuclear plant in  Ohio, and the twin-unit 1872MWe Beaver Valley plant in Pennsylvania in 2021.

Closure of the Davis-Besse and Perry units was rescinded in July 2019 after the state of Ohio passed into law a bill providing clean energy credits to zero-emission power producers.

Pennsylvania lawmakers have not approved subsidies, but the decision to join the RGGI “will begin to help level the playing field for our carbon-free nuclear generators”, said John Judge, Energy Harbor president and CEO.

The RGGI members include  Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection is writing rules to guide participation, and a full first draft is expected in mid-April. The aim is to join the programme in 2022. Energy Harbor has warned that if Pennsylvania does not keep to the schedule it “would need to revisit deactivation” of the Beaver Valley plant.

Photo: The Beaver Valley nuclear power station the USA (Credit: Pixabay/Markus Distelrath)