Three Mile Island future in doubt after it fails to sell electricity at auction

LONDONDERRY TOWNSHIP, DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. -- The future of Three Mile Island continues to be in question.

It's owner, Exelon Generation announced Wednesday morning that the nuclear power plant failed to find a buyer for its electricity at a wholesale energy auction.

Currently, TMI is only set to produce through 2019, as it was bidding for contracts for the years 2020 and 2021.

While Exelon Generation hasn't made an official decision on the future of TMI, the option to take the plant off line, is still on the table.

The results of that decision has a community worried about its own future.

Londonderry Township manager Steve Letavic considers Three Mile Island a good neighbor, but the word coming from the plant's owner Wednesday morning was anything but good.

"The devastating impact it would have on our community," Letavic wondered.

For the third straight year in a row, TMI fails to secure future customers at a wholesale auction to sell the electricity it generates.

Exelon Generation senior site communications manager Dave Marcheskie said "at this time Exelon has not made a decision on the future of TMI, but I do know they are currently looking at their options long term. If it's not profitability, long term, they can't find a solution, TMI is at risk of early retirement."

"We depend on those jobs, and the revenue sources that come from them, the tax revenue, and I thought it would be a real shame to lose one of the highest performing plants in the country, nuclear plants in the country, and if those jobs go away, they're not going to come back," Letavic said.

If TMI were to shutdown, it could mean more than a loss of power or jobs.

"We do a large fundraiser with Three Mile Island every year, so we have multiple revenue streams that are a direct result of our relationship with Three Mile Island," Letavic said.

"Every year they donate more than $300,000 to local charities, and they're really committed to living here, in Dauphin and Lancaster counties," Marcheskie said.

"If this happens, it will have a direct and negative impact on my residents, because somewhere when we lose those revenue dollars, and it's not just us, it's the school district, it's the county, we have to find those dollars somewhere else," Letavic said.

While Three Mile Island is committed to energy production through 2019, losing out in the wholesale auction leaves a company and community to wonder what happens next.

"We don't know at this time, we do know Exelon, they're looking at their options, and it could be soon, for the sake of transparency," Marcheskie said.

"Maybe that we'd have to reduce services, and maybe that we have jobs that we leave unfilled, and that's all something that we would consider. For us, a tax increase is a last resort," Letavic said.

Three Mile Island is licensed to operate through 2034, but Exelon Generation will have to let the federal government know if it plans to sell at next year's auction by September 1.

It opens up the possibility that a decision on the fate of TMI could be reached by the end of summer.