Exelon Moves to Pull Plug on Three Mile Island Nuclear Power Plant

By Ezequiel Minaya Features Dow Jones Newswires

Exelon Corp. said Tuesday it has begun the process of closing down its money-losing Three Mile Island nuclear power plant and will complete the shutdown by September 2019 unless lawmakers make changes to help the facility compete in an increasingly cut-throat energy market.

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Last week, the company warned that Three Mile Island, located in Pennsylvania, didn't clear required capacity auction conditions. It said the plant has continued to struggle because of low wholesale power prices and energy policies the company said don't "value zero-emissions nuclear energy." It said Three Mile Island hasn't been profitable in five years.

Power producers bid in annual capacity auctions for long-term contracts to supply electricity; Three Mile Island hasn't cleared its past three annual auctions.

The company also said Tuesday that it will immediately take a one-time charge ranging from $65 million to $110 million this year in connection with the move.

The company said the facility employs 675 people while contracting with an additional 1,500 workers. Exelon's Chief Executive Chris Crane urged local legislators to help keep the doors of the facility open by providing subsidies or similar assistance.

In 1979, a partial core meltdown in one of the reactors of Three Mile facility led to five days of panic and 14 years of expensive clean-up. The incident didn't cause any fatalities but did have a sizable impact on the winding-down of the nuclear power industry in the U.S. in the 1980s and indelibly marked public perception of the safety of nuclear plants.

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Write to Ezequiel Minaya at ezequiel.minaya@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 30, 2017 10:30 ET (14:30 GMT)