he New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) today awarded Zero Emission Certificates (ZECs) to the Salem One and Two and Hope Creek nuclear power plants. Board Order. The State Legislature passed the Zero Emissions Certificate Law in May 2018, noting the “moral imperative for the State to invest in energy infrastructure that does not produce greenhouse gases.” The law further noted that “the abrupt retirement of existing, licensed, and operating nuclear power plants within and outside the State that provide electricity to customers in New Jersey, and any concomitant increase in the proportion of New Jersey’s electricity demand met by natural gas and coal, will result in a substantial increase in emissions of several serious pollutants, and associated adverse public health and environmental impacts.”
In the decision today, Board President Joseph L. Fiordaliso referenced the urgency of climate change and the potential environmental impacts of immediately closing down the nuclear plants, which currently provide approximately 32 percent of the state’s energy mix and 90 percent of the state’s clean energy. He also noted the potential economic impacts if the plants should close, which would cost 750-1500 local jobs in addition to destabilizing the grid. The decision was 4-1.
“We do not make this decision lightly and the Board must balance protecting ratepayers with our responsibility to the citizens of the state,” said President Fiordaliso. “We have a moral obligation to our fellow citizens to do everything we can to decrease carbon emissions. In making this decision, the Board considered fuel diversity, resiliency, RGGI, the New Jersey’s economy, and environmental impact and we’ve concluded that now is not a time to move forward in a way that
will remove nuclear from our energy mix and ultimately increase air pollution and carbon emissions in our state.”
PSEG owns Hope Creek and with Exelon, Salem One and Two, all of which are located in Lower Alloways Creek Township. The collection of funds to pay for the credits approved today by the Board will begin immediately and will result in approximately $100 million in subsidies for each of the plants per year for three years at the statutorily mandated rate of $0.004 per kilowatt hour. If more money is collected than is needed, the additional funds will be returned to ratepayers. At the end of three years the program will be reevaluated by the Board. Should the utilities receive additional funding via state or federal subsidies those funds would need to be reconciled against the ZECs.