Closing nuclear power plant sparks controversy

Cole Hall, North Campus Staff

FirstEnergy announced that by the year 2021, they will be shutting down the Beaver Valley Nuclear power plant. The move comes as part of a plan to shut down three plants in the Ohio area. The company attributes rising operating costs and lowering demands for the moves behind the decision.

“We call on elected officials in Ohio and Pennsylvania to consider policy solutions … solutions that will make it feasible to continue to operate these plants in the future,” said Jack Manning, of the Beaver County Chamber of Commerce.

The decision has been met with sizable resistance. Alan Fritz, Superintendent of the South Side area school district says the impact of the station shutting down will be overwhelming. “It would have devastating effects. It’s about a third of our net tax income, 2.7 million dollars,” he tells CBS Pittsburgh. “The school district could not function the way that we do right now, or even come close to remaining at the level that we currently exist.” The power plant is Beaver County’s fifth largest employer.

The plant directly employs about 1,000 Beaver County residents and assists a number of supporting jobs. Nuclear energy as a whole produces 63 million dollars in annual tax revenue for PA, according to BV Matters, an organization in support of the power plant.“People have been on pins and needles about the anticipation that this could happen, this kind of announcement,” said Manning, “Obviously it’s a significant employer and a significant part of the economy of Beaver County.” Nuclear energy contributes to 35 percent of PA’s energy mix. Beaver Valley alone produced 15,312 GWh in the year 2017.

The decision needs to be approved by PJM Interconnections and hope remains for further deals through legislation. The plant is also open to be purchased from potential buyers. “The decision to deactivate these facilities is very difficult and in no way a reflection on the dedicated, hard-working employees who operate the plants safely and reliably,” said FEW Generation Cos.

President Don Moul and chief nuclear officer of FirstEnergy, “or on the local communities and union leaders who have advocated passionately on their behalf.” FES Generation is owned by FirstEnergy.