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TMI fuels power grid, communities across the commonwealth: Tom Mehaffie

Posted 2/28/18

Pennsylvania is finally starting to thaw out from the frigid temperatures associated with Winter Storm Grayson, also dubbed a “bomb cyclone.” The severe weather system which swept through …

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TMI fuels power grid, communities across the commonwealth: Tom Mehaffie

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Pennsylvania is finally starting to thaw out from the frigid temperatures associated with Winter Storm Grayson, also dubbed a “bomb cyclone.” The severe weather system which swept through the East Coast in January made our commutes and our lives more difficult.

Many don’t realize that storms of that magnitude don’t just impact our plans. They also put tremendous strain on our energy grid. As people turn up the heat in their homes and offices, electricity demand spikes. In fact, this storm generated the region’s highest demand for winter electricity since 2014, the year of the infamous Polar Vortex.

Extreme weather events can disrupt the fuel supply of many sources of electricity. Thankfully, we didn’t experience widespread power disruptions because Pennsylvania’s grid maintained service throughout the storm, as it did in 2014.

Pennsylvania’s grid performed so reliably under such tremendous strain because of its abundant supply of nuclear energy, which is not susceptible to fuel supply disruptions during extreme weather events.

Three Mile Island and the state’s four other nuclear facilities continued to deliver clean and reliable electricity, even as temperatures plummeted and demand for power soared to historic levels.

The U.S. Department of Energy has recognized the importance of energy sources, like nuclear, that generate abundant supplies of electricity when we need them most. In September, the DOE put forward a plan recognizing the value of power plants that keep 90 days of fuel onsite, therefore, protecting the resilience of the energy grid. The Federal Energy Regulatory Committee recently announced it shared the DOE’s goal of strengthening the “resilience” of the electricity grid and directed regional transmission operators to provide information to help the commission examine the matter “holistically.”

I am hopeful that TMI’s regional grid operator, PJM Interconnection, will quickly propose a market solution that properly values nuclear energy for its resilience and provide that solution to the FERC.

As many of you know, TMI is scheduled to close in 2019 without changes that properly value its benefits — like the ability to keep the grid running in weather like we just experienced. The facility’s closure would have a very negative effect on our communities. More than 100 TMI employees live in the 106th District alone. It would also negatively impact many local businesses, and we would lose the more than $1 million in revenue that TMI pays in taxes, which go to our local schools and social services.

As a member of the General Assembly’s Nuclear Energy Caucus, I will continue to investigate ways in which we can sustain and advance comprehensive energy policies in the commonwealth and save jobs in our region. Ultimately, keeping TMI open is going to require a combination of actions on the federal, regional and state levels. I encourage residents of the 106th District to join me in being a voice at every level of government for TMI, its employees and the longevity of clean, reliable and resilient energy.

State Rep. Tom Mehaffie, R-Lower Swatara Township, represents the 106th Pennsylvania House District. Reach him at 717-534-1323 or tmehaffie@pahousegop.com.