LETTER: TMI editorial reflects ignorance

Mark Strauch
Red Lion
The Three Mile Island Unit 1 reactors and one of the Unit 2 reactors, right, viewed from the north, Friday, March 15, 2019. The Unit 2 reactors have been shut down since the March 28, 1979, partial meltdown. Bill Kalina photo

Your May 10 editorial “Market dictated TMI closure” deserves a thorough scrubbing. Since the paper believes in the power of free markets, why did it not advocate for the repeal of the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act? That act subsidizes energy sources that would not otherwise make it in a free market. Which is it?

This comment reflects ignorance of the AEPS: “Trying to pretend that nuclear energy is an alternative, renewable power source on the same level as solar and wind requires twisting the definitions of alternative energy.” The very first words of the AEPS Act preamble are: “Providing for the sale of electric energy generated from renewable and environmentally beneficial sources …” 

Carbon-free nuclear power is certainly an environmentally beneficial source of electricity; so much cleaner than coal, oil and fossil gas (euphemistically known as natural gas). The editorial minimizes the carbon-free nature of nuclear electricity and diverts to radioactive materials and spent nuclear fuel (which contains about 94% of its original energy, and should be recycled).

Where is the acknowledgment and concern of the toxic materials used in the production of solar and wind energy technologies? For the curious, the half-life of those waste streams is infinite.

Nuclear is dispatchable, meaning it can be scheduled and relied upon. Solar and wind require back-up sources when they cannot deliver, effectively increasing their costs.

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Lastly, the editorial bemoans that renewable energy sources are in early stages of use and that nuclear energy is “mature.” Clue: solar and wind energy technologies predate nuclear, the latter by centuries. Of course, there is always room for improvement in all of those technologies (nuclear included) and the paper should be more honest with its readers.

There are a lot of ways to spin a generator and make electricity. Nuclear is among the cleanest and most reliable ways to do that, and should have been included under the AEPS “environmentally beneficial” umbrella. That is all the legislation is asking for.