The owner of Three Mile Island, Exelon Corp announced on Tuesday that its Nuclear Site, which went through one of the worst nuclear reactor meltdown in the history of the United States will close in 2019, unless it receives funds from Pennsylvania.
President and Chief Executive Operator, Chris Crane called it “a difficult day” for the plant’s 675 employees, their families and customers.
The employees are expected to start transitioning out within six months of the final shutdown, the Exelon said.
The Chicago-based company said that it will make shutdown notifications to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission within 30 days and will also terminate capital investment projects required for long term operation and cancel 2019 fuel purchases and outage planning.
The company said that operating costs for just one of the reactor at the plant were too high, which further damaged the power plant’s financial ability that to in a time of competition from natural gas and renewable energies.
But still the company is holding its door open to preserve the nuclear plant, saying reforms to Pennsylvania state energy policy to support nuclear power could provide “one of many potential solutions.”
The company also said that it is committed to find the best solution for the plant. The nuclear energy contributes $2 billion a year to Pennsylvania’s economy and supports 16,000 direct and indirect jobs in the state.
But, the prices of natural gases going down to 64% over a decade, has left nuclear energy at a disadvantage. It remains expensive and offers few opportunities to cut overhead costs.
The nuclear energy represents just 9% of energy used in the country, although it makes up 19% of electricity generation, which still lags behind natural gas at 32%, petroleum at 28% and coal at 21%.
The March 1979, equipment failure and operator errors led to a partial core meltdown in one of the two reactors that lead to several days of fear and prompting nearly 144,000 people to flee their homes amid conflicting or ill informed information from utility and government officials.
The reactor meltdown is rated 5 on the International Nuclear Event Scale from 0 to 7.
The meltdown led to “tiny” releases of radio active radiations, according to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Although no one died and no immediate injuries were linked to the incident, no new nuclear power plants have been built in the United States since then.
Governor Tom Wolf has made no commitment to a bailout, but stated on Tuesday that he is concerned about layoffs at Three Mile Island.