Dauphin County, Londonderry Township officials worry economic impact of Three Mile Island shutdown

LONDONDERRY TOWNSHIP, DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. - In less than 5 months, Three Mile Island Nuclear Power Plant will close. Dauphin County and Londonderry Township officials are worried about the impact that closure will have on the local economy.

Since Exelon announced the possibility of Three Mile Island shutting down, Dauphin County and Londonderry Township officials have been preparing for the financial hit to the economy.

"It's not like we didn't know this day was coming," said Dauphin County Commissioner Mike Pries. "It's just we didn't think it was going to occur the way it did."

Dauphin County, Londonderry Township, and Lower Dauphin School District will lose more than $1 million total, that they receive from TMI every year.

"So these are things that we are not going to be able to make up," said Pries.

On top of property taxes that will be lost, 675 full-time jobs will be gone too, equaling about $60 million in annual payroll. Many of the people will likely leave the area to find another job in nuclear energy.

"Now, we are looking at a lot of houses coming on the market," said Anna Dale, Londonderry Township Supervisor. "And generally in real estate it can only handle so many houses at one time."

Dale says the township will lose about 1/3 of its nearly $2 million budget because of TMI's closure. Dale says the township's been preparing for the possible loss for more than two years.

"We've had the foresight to work on a 5-year budget plan," said Dale. "And every year we reevaluate that 5-year plan and when we heard the announcement we started making adjustments to our operational costs."

Yet, Pries questions how the legislature let TMI and the 675 jobs leave so easily without even voting on bills that would have allowed the plant to remain open.

"Our legislature would bend over backwards for that business to come in," said Pries. "But we have that business here that's not shutting down and very few people did anything about it."

While county and township officials do not want to raise taxes because of this revenue loss, Pries pointed to Vernon, Vermont where taxes were raised 25 percent when the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station closed.

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