Environmentalists say PSEG & Christie kept public in the dark

Hope Creek Nuclear Generating Station in Lower Alloways Creek Township.

Lawmakers will consider controversial legislation that raises electric rates to subsidize nuclear power plants, when a bill identical to the one that died in the final days of the Christie administration as two leading Democratic lawmakers, the Senate President and former Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, battled over this and other issues.

The bill, S877, sponsored by Senate President Steve Sweeney, is up for a vote today in the Senate Environment and Energy committee but the New Jersey Sierra Club is saying that PSEG deliberately held information from the public during their negotiations with the Christie administration while working on the proposed $300 million a year nuclear subsidy.

While writing nuclear subsidy legislation, the company managed to insert stipulations that would shield the company’s financial information.

“This report reveals shameful cooperation between PSEG and the Christie administration,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “When you write bills behind closed doors, it never benefits the public. It’s how government sells out the people to special interests. In this case, it’s even worse because they want an open-ended subsidy that could cost ratepayers billions of dollars at the expense of renewable energy.”

“Adding the privacy language shielding PSEG’s financials from the public just shows how underhanded of a proposal this is,” said Tittel. “They want to hide from the public how much they’re going to get fleeced with these subsidies that PSEG doesn’t need in the first place.”

“This was not to protect PSEG’s interest, it was to keep the public in the dark,” said Tittel. “We already know they don’t need the money from this subsidy bill. PSEG could get $800 million in subsidies from Trump’s tax cut. PJM is also looking to give them millions in subsidies. Under energy deregulation these plants also received $2.5 billion dollars in subsidies as Stranded Assets, despite being profitable. PSEG still want to take billions of NJ ratepayer money to subsidize nuclear their power plants that are already making money.

“This article exposes the games being played behind closed doors,” said Tittel. “PSEG’s nuclear plants aren’t in any jeopardy and don’t need any financial assistance for at least a couple years. All this is about is taking care of stockholders and bondholders. We need an outside, independent audit with a forensic fiscal investigation. We want to make sure we’re not subsidizing nuclear plants, but more importantly that when the plants close, they need to be replaced by renewable energy. The Legislature has no need to push through this bill that will severely interfere with Governor Murphy’s clean energy goals.”

The panel will meet to hear testimony on the bill at 10 am today, January 25, 2018, in Committee Room 4, 1st Floor, State House Annex, in Trenton.

As of 2013, 52 percent of electricity in the state was produced by nuclear power and 42 percent was produced by natural gas.

Hope Creek Nuclear Generating Station is a thermal nuclear power plant located on the same site as the Salem Nuclear Power Plant, a two unit pressurized water reactor nuclear power plant located in Lower Alloways Creek Township, in Salem County. PSEG threatened to shut the plants if lower gas prices make them less profitable, despite the enormous costs that would be associated with decommissioning the reactors.

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