Matzie: House Consumer Affairs Committee hears from additional stakeholders in weighing nuclear subsidy bill

HARRISBURG, May 6 – Members of the House Consumer Affairs Committee heard additional testimony today during a fourth public hearing to consider legislation that would provide ratepayer-subsidized credits to Pennsylvania’s nuclear energy providers, according to the committee’s Democratic chair, state Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny.

“The committee has been hearing from a broad segment of community stakeholders to fully understand the potential impacts of this bill,” Matzie said. “With our state’s working families in mind, we’re weighing a multitude of factors, including the impact on jobs, the economy and our communities; the cost to consumers; the need for a diverse energy portfolio; and the impact on other energy producers and industries, among other factors.

"While the testimony and dialog from these public hearings has been extremely helpful, our inquiry remains incredibly complex, and it’s complicated by the fact that we’re dealing with issues ordinarily addressed by federal agencies. What’s clear, however, is that we need to move slowly and judiciously to ensure that any decision reflects the best interests of Pennsylvania’s working families.”

Matzie noted that the committee heard testimony today from representatives of PJM, the regional transmission organization that monitors and coordinates electric generators and high-voltage transmission lines in Pennsylvania and a number of other states; the state Public Utility Commission; the director of the Department of Energy Programs for the state Department of Environmental Protection; and advocates from the Office of the Consumer Advocate and the Office of the Small Business Advocate.

House Bill 11 would amend the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act, which requires that Pennsylvania's electric distribution companies and electric generation suppliers use 18 percent of alternative energy sources for energy generation and distribution by 2021.  

To prove their compliance with the act, the utilities must buy alternative energy credits from the producers, which is the way the subsidy is transferred to the producers. The utilities then pass the costs along to consumers.

Currently, the AEPS excludes nuclear energy providers. House Bill 11 would add nuclear providers by creating a third category of energy credits for “zero-emission power” category for the state’s nuclear energy providers. The bill would require that utilities purchase an additional 50 percent of energy credits from those providers. 

Absent a change in policy, two of the state’s plants – Exelon’s Three Mile Island and FirstEnergy’s Beaver Valley Power Station – are scheduled to shut down within the next few years.