Keep Powering Pennsylvania: supporters say legislation values nuclear energy, opponents call it a bailout

LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP, DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. - State Rep. Tom Mehaffie, with support of Ironworkers Local Union 404 in Harrisburg introduce House Bill 11. The bill is also known as the Keep Powering Pennsylvania Act. Mehaffie says his legislation will properly value nuclear energy and keep nuclear power plants, like Three Mile Island, open and operational.

"To ignore the challenges facing these plants would be one of the most irresponsible and irreversible decisions we've made in a generation," said Mehaffie, who represents part of Dauphin County.

The bill would cost Pennsylvanians $500 million a year, which supporters say is minimal compared to the impact of nuclear plants shutting down, which Mehaffie estimates at $4.6 billion a year. On top of that, he says 16,000 Pennsylvanians working in the nuclear power industry would lose their jobs.

"Retaining the jobs we already have is just as important as creating new jobs," said Mehaffie.

However, not everyone is on board with Mehaffie's legislation.

"This is a terrible idea," said David Taylor, Pennsylvania Manufacturers' Association President & CEO. '"That would ruin electricity competition in Pennsylvania."

Taylor says to make consumers pay an extra half billion dollars a year is consumer rip off to benefit corporations.

"It's the kind of corporate greed that shouldn't be countenanced," said Taylor. "And it's a bad example for others that you can use the power of government to undermine the market place and competition."

Taylor says, the yearly increase electric consumers would be forced to pay could have detrimental effects on manufacturers in the state.

"Our manufacturers consume large amounts of energy, even small percentage increases in rates can total hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars," said Taylor. "So, this is a big threat to the competitiveness of our manufacturing economy."

HB11 will first need to be voted out of committee before voted on by the house.

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