Legislature should reject nuclear energy bills

Editor, The News: 

I am writing to oppose the passage of a law that will effectively impose a tax of at least $500 million annually on all electric ratepayers in Pennsylvania. My company, ELLWOOD Group Inc., uses large quantities of electricity in our electric arc furnaces in New Castle and Irvine, where we make steel parts for large equipment. We employ 1,000 people in western Pennsylvania.

Two proposed bills in Harrisburg, HB 11 and SB 510, would require electric utilities to purchase the output of nuclear generators even when a nuclear plant’s prices are significantly more expensive than electricity supplied from gas- or coal-fired electricity generators. Nuclear generators supply approximately 40 percent of the power generated in Pennsylvania while gas- and coal-fired plants produce approximately 53 percent. The nuclear generators are unhappy because, in response to market dynamics, they must choose between lowering prices or losing market share to gas-fired plants. So, they are asking the legislature to require electricity ratepayers — both homeowners and companies like mine — to hand over millions in cash to the nuclear generators to bail them out.

Natural gas is much cleaner than coal and is the cheapest available fuel.

The proposed legislation would greatly increase the cost of electricity to companies like Ellwood Group. Yet, according to the Independent Market Monitor, Pennsylvania nuclear plants collectively earned $640 million in profits in 2018.

Why is the Pennsylvania legislature playing favorites, taking money from companies like ELLWOOD Group and handing it to nuclear generators? We have our own needs to reinvest in modern equipment to fight foreign competition. But we are not asking the state of Pennsylvania to give us a cash handout to pay for those new investments, or to bail us out for bad investment decisions in the past.

There is plenty of cheap, clean natural gas available in Pennsylvania — let’s use it! I ask the legislature to let the free market determine the price of energy.

David Barensfeld

Chairman of the Board

ELLWOOD Group, Inc.

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