New Poll: Pennsylvanians Oppose Bailouts That Will Increase Electricity Bills

Results show 73% of people polled prefer competitive market over government interference

HARRISBURG, Pa. (June 6, 2018) —  An overwhelming majority of Pennsylvanians are against state intervention to upend Pennsylvania’s competitive electricity markets by bailing out the state’s aging nuclear power plants, according to results from a recent statewide poll.

The poll, commissioned by Citizens Against Nuclear Bailouts, revealed that while consumers support energy diversity, they are not willing to pay higher electricity bills to prop up uneconomical nuclear plants. Additionally, a vast majority of Pennsylvanians believe that competition and consumers should determine the state’s electricity markets.

The issue has caught the attention of voters as focus shifts to several midterm elections this fall. More than half of poll respondents said they would be less likely to vote for an elected official who supports any legislation to subsidize nuclear power generators. By comparison, only 12 percent of voters said they would be more likely to support an elected official who supports a bailout.

“The results are in, and it’s clear that Pennsylvanians don’t want -- and cannot afford – to subsidize certain power plants,” said William Johnston-Walsh, State Director, AARP Pennsylvania. “Older people on fixed or low incomes already struggle just to make ends meet. It’s plainly inappropriate to ask them to unnecessarily hand over more of their hard-earned money to large, already profitable power companies.”

In the early years of Pennsylvania’s electricity market deregulation, under rules supported by the nuclear generation owners, the state’s manufacturers struggled with electricity rates because high-cost natural gas set the price for all sources of generation.  During that time the nuclear power industry benefited in the billions with revenues much higher than they projected while energy costs drove manufacturing jobs out of the state. Recently, more affordable natural gas and new generation resources have lowered electricity prices and removed the high margins once enjoyed by the nuclear generation owners.

"More efficient and affordable power generating resources have lowered energy costs and are providing a new life-line to Pennsylvania’s manufacturers," said Rod Williamson, Executive Director, Industrial Energy Consumers of Pennsylvania. "Consequently, the nuclear generation owners now seek to saddle Pennsylvania’s energy consumers with subsidy payments for units that we no longer need and that cannot compete under rules that they helped design.  Now that Pennsylvania’s manufacturers are experiencing a competitive advantage based upon energy costs, we cannot afford subsidies to nuclear generation owners that will risk tens of thousands of good manufacturing jobs.”

The cost of a nuclear bailout in Pennsylvania would be largely dependent on the mechanism by which the federal or state government approaches the issue. For comparison, recent bailouts in Illinois are projected to cost ratepayers $2.3 billion over 10 years and in New York, the nuclear industry will receive a projected $7 billion over 12 years. The recently enacted bailout in New Jersey will cost ratepayers an estimated $300 million per year.

More information on the poll, including demographics can be found at nonukebailoutpa.com.

Citizens Against Nuclear Bailouts is a diverse coalition of Pennsylvania citizens groups, power generators and energy, business and manufacturing associations. For more information follow us on:

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CANB: Nuclear Bailout Poll Results