The board said the decision to approve the zero emissions certificates (ZECs) ensures that the plants, which supply the state with over 90% of in-state carbon-free generation and 37.5% of its overall in-state energy supply, will remain operational.
“The board’s decision secures the single largest source of the state’s overall clean energy power supply, which would otherwise be replaced by sources such as fossil gas, increasing emissions at a time when combatting the climate crisis amid a worldwide pandemic is paramount,” a statement said.
The ZEC Law, which the New Jersey legislature passed in 2018, directs the board to consider the “moral imperative” of the state investing in carbon-free energy sources. It also shows that closing the plants would lead to “a substantial increase in emissions of several serious pollutants, and associated adverse public health and environmental impacts.”
The single-unit Hope Creek is a 1,172-MW boiling water reactor unit that began commercial operation in December 1986. Salem-1 is a 1,169-MW pressurised water reactor unit that began commercial operation in June 1977 and Salem-2, a 1,158-MW PWR, began commercial operation in October 1981. PSE&G owns Hope Creek-1 and, with Exelon, Salem-1 and -2.
PSE&G first won the subsidies in 2019. Aaccording to PSE&G, the cost averages about $3 a month added to the bill of a typical residential customer.
The subsidies will amount to approximately $100m in a year for each plant for three years, at the rate of $0.004 per kilowatt hour. At the end of three years, the board will reevaluate the programme and if more money is collected than needed, those funds will be returned to ratepayers.