Matzie warns against shuttering power plants at Nuclear Energy Caucus meeting

Says move would cost jobs, put state’s energy security at risk

HARRISBURG, May 23 – Premature closure of the state’s five nuclear power plants would bring severe consequences, both for the state’s working families and its ability to meet residents’ energy needs, state Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, warned today at a meeting of the House Nuclear Energy Caucus at the state Capitol.

As co-chairman of the caucus, Matzie, who called for today’s meeting, reiterated concerns that doing away with an essential industry would cut off critical jobs and jeopardize energy security for residents of southwestern Pennsylvania.

“Job retention is more important than job creation,” Matzie said. “These are people who have put down roots – they work in the community – they coach Little League – they give back to their communities. Without the benefit of a large employer that has the ability to give back to the people who work so hard in those plants, it’s only going to get worse.”

In addition to job retention, Matzie said shuttering the nuclear plants would severely impact Pennsylvania’s energy security.

“Energy security is the term we use, but to the folks out there what that means is that, when you flip the switch, the light comes on. The heat works in the winter and the AC works in the summer.”

Matzie asked panelist Kris Anderson, a representative from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, what would have happened if the state had had another severe cold week during the past winter without nuclear and coal at its disposal. Anderson answered that brownouts would have been likely.

“Even PJM admitted that without the nuclear and coal base in our energy fleet, we would have had them,” Anderson said. “For them to openly admit that and then say that it’s OK to decommission these plants, is a contradiction. You can’t say that they saved us and then in the next breath say that we don’t need them. It’s evident we need those plants on a daily basis.”

In addition to Anderson’s remarks, caucus members heard testimony from Martin Williams, business manager of the Boilermakers Local 13, Joe Gusler, president of the Central Pennsylvania Building and Construction Trades Council and IBEW president Steve Knoebel. They spoke of how closure of the state’s nuclear power plants would negatively impact the state’s economy and working families.

Williams explained how closing the plants would affect not just the direct plant workers but the thousands of building trade workers who perform critical maintenance and other work, affecting as many as 16,000 jobs. And Gusler described how losing the 3,000 full-time employees at Pennsylvania’s five nuclear power plants would impact the state’s families and economy. He added that there is a very real environmental impact, noting that preservation of existing plants is essential to any plan to reduce carbon emissions.

Matzie warned that if the southwestern region of the state is to fully benefit from the rebirth of manufacturing, it will need a diverse portfolio of energy resources.

“We’re not going to have a windmill on top of a steel mill,” he said. “We’re not going to have solar panels that will fire up a steel mill. For us to benefit from manufacturing again here in southwest Pennsylvania, it’s critical that we have other reliable energy sources.”