NJ Politics Digest: Nuke Plant Owners Add Pressure in Fight for $300 Million Subsidy

New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney

New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney. Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

PSEG and Exelon appear to be turning up the pressure to get lawmakers to approve a controversial bill that would have state residents pay a $300 million per year subsidy to the companies, according to a report by NJSpotlight.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the co-owners of the Salem nuclear power plant said they will no longer fund capital projects at the facility until the subsidy plan is approved, according to the report.

The move comes as state lawmakers remain stalled over the bill.

Ratepayer advocates, business groups and environmentalists oppose the subsidy plan—which would cost each ratepayer an estimated $41 more per year—but it is being pushed by Senate President Steve Sweeney, whose district contains the power plants.

The companies have threatened to close two Salem nuclear units and the Hope Creek nuclear station if the measure isn’t approved.

In the SEC filing, PSEG and Exelon said funding for the projects would be restored if the legislature approves measures that “sufficiently values” the attributes of nuclear energy, according to the report.

The subsidy bill has had a rough history in the legislature, with the latest version trying to incorporate Gov. Phil Murphy’s calls for clean energy initiatives.

Opponents of the bill say the plant owners haven’t proved the financial need for the subsidy. The bill calls for the nuclear power plants to provide financial data supporting the need for subsidies to the state Board of Public Utilities but would keep the ratepayer’s advocate from seeing the information. Opponents say keeping the information from the advocate means consumers’ interests will not be protected.

Quote of the Day: “It’s more about politics than capital investments. It is part of their strategy to get billion dollars in subsidies.” — Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, on PSEG’s decision to stop funding capital projects at its Salem nuclear plant.

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NJ Politics Digest: Nuke Plant Owners Add Pressure in Fight for $300 Million Subsidy