The future of Three Mile Island in question

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LONDONDERRY TOWNSHIP, DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. -- The future of the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Dauphin County is up in the air.

The plant's owner, Exelon Generation, placed a bid Tuesday to sell it's electricity in a wholesale power auction, as it waits to see if there are any takers.

Some officials believe increased competition from dozens of new, natural gas plants statewide is slowing the demand for nuclear energy, and putting the future of Three Mile Island in jeopardy.

Nuclear power may be cooling down in Pennsylvania, but state Nuclear Caucus co-chair Sen. John Yudichak (D-Carbon/Luzerne County) is focused on ways to save it.

Sen. John Yudichak said "it's going to have an impact on consumers, it's going to have an impact on jobs, so the General Assembly of the Pennsylvania state legislature should be paying attention."

"All of these plants in terms of electric generation from natural gas, they're starting to come online, that volume, that capacity is changing the market," Yudichak said.

The competitive market is making it more difficult for Three Mile Island to compete in its bid for wholesale buyers of electricity.

TMI operator Exelon Generation released the following statement.

“TMI has not cleared in the last two PJM capacity auctions and we’ll need to wait for the results of the 2019/2020 auctions before deciding on next steps for the plant."

"If they don't meet these auctions, then they don't have customers," Yudichak said.

A business without customers might not have much of a future as the statement from Exelon Generation reads.

"As we have said previously, while TMI is committed to operate through mid-year 2019, if we do not see a long-term path to sustainable profitability for TMI, we will consider all options, including unit shutdown.”

The threat of TMI powering off for good comes with a loss greater than just the electricity it generates.

"It's 750 jobs, a lot of IBEW, and boilermakers, that work in that plant, good family sustaining jobs. We're concerned not only about those 750 jobs, 16,000 jobs in the nuclear industry in Pennsylvania," Yudichak said.

It's an industry which Yudichak considers a major power player in the state.

"Certainly a key component of our electric generation, almost 40 percent of our electric generation, so that kind of disruption in our energy market is going to have an impact on prices," Yudichak said.

"We want a diverse portfolio of energy here in Pennsylvania, in terms of electric generation, because it's better for consumers. We want lower rates. We want abundant energy," Yudichak added.