Pilgrim’s owner slams state officials on way out
The owner of Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station said Tuesday morning it plans to shutter the 43-year-old plant by June 2019, a big financial blow to the town of Plymouth and a major headache for the Baker administration as it tries to reduce the cost of electricity and meet the state’s clean energy goals.
Louisiana-based Entergy Corp. said it was closing the 680-megawatt plant because of poor market conditions, reduced revenues, and increased operational costs. Specifically, the company said it was facing higher costs to upgrade the plant’s lowest-in-the nation safety rating. The firm also said low natural gas prices, brought about by increased shale gas production, had driven down “current and forecast power prices” by $10 a megawatt hour, resulting in a $40 million drop in revenues for Pilgrim.
“Market conditions and increased costs led us reluctantly to conclude that we had no option other than to shut down the plant,” said Leo Denault, Entergy’s chairman and CEO.
According to the Globe, Pilgrim employs about 600 people and provides Plymouth with $10 million a year and other benefits. The Globe also reported that Pilgrim supplies 5 percent of the region’s electricity but accounts for 84 percent of the state’s non-carbon emitting energy.
In the press release announcing the plant closing, Entergy took some shots at regional and state regulators. The company said “wholesale energy market design flaws” did not provide adequate compensation to nuclear plants for their supply of “reliable, carbon-free, large-scale, 24/7 energy generation.”
The company also said its economic performance had been undermined by “unfavorable state energy proposals.” For example, Entergy said the state subsidizes renewable energy resources at the expense of plants like Pilgrim. It blamed a Baker administration proposal to provide “above-market prices” to utilities in Canada for delivery of hydropower to the region. And it appeared to criticize the state Department of Public Utilities for a decision opening the door to ratepayer subsidies for natural gas pipeline infrastructure, which Entergy said would “further lower the price of natural gas and increase the region’s reliance on it.”
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