Entergy announced today that it will close the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant in Plymouth no later than June 1, 2019. In a release, the energy company cited poor market conditions, reduced revenues and increased operational costs. Entergy informed ISO New England, Inc, the independent system operator of the electric grid of their plans, saying Pilgrim would no longer participate as a capacity resource in the market.
The exact date of the shutdown will depend on several factors and will be decided early in 2016, the release said. The Pilgrim facility generates enough electricity to power more than 600,000 homes.
"The decision to close Pilgrim was incredibly difficult because of the effect on our employees and the communities in which they work and live," said Entergy Chairman and Executive Officer Leo Denault. More than 600 people are employed at the plant.
Last month, the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced that Pilgrim had slid from Column 3 to Column 4 of the NRC's Action Matrix. The plant was downgraded following an inspection report. The plant has experienced several unplanned shutdowns or scrams over the past year prompting increased oversight by the NRC. Recently, on two separate and unrelated occasions, Pilgrim employees failed fitness-for-duty tests.
Pilgrim and its owner Entergy continue to be hounded by several grassroots organizations and politicians including the very vocal State Senator Dan Wolf who has called for the plant's closure. Tuesday morning, the group Cape Downwiders announced a speak out against Pilgrim at the State House in Boston on October 22, the focus of which will undoubtedly change.
Following shutdown, the plant will transition to decommissioning, the release said. Entergy closed the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station in Vernon, VT in December 2014. At that time, the company cited similar reasons to those given for the anticipated Pilgrim closure. Many of the employees at the Yankee plant were transferred to Pilgrim.
“Our Administration will work closely with Pilgrim’s leadership team and federal regulators to ensure that this decision is managed as safely as possible, and we will continue to work with ISO and the other New England Governors to ensure that Massachusetts and New England has the baseload capacity it needs to meet the electric generation needs of the region," Governor Charlie Baker said in a statement Tuesday morning. "Losing Pilgrim as a significant power generator not only poses a potential energy shortage, but also highlights the need for clean, reliable, affordable energy proposals which my administration has put forward through legislation to deliver affordable hydroelectricity and Class-I renewable resources. The closure of Pilgrim will be a significant loss of carbon-free electricity generation and will offset progress Massachusetts has made in achieving the 2020 greenhouse gas emission reduction goals, making it more challenging to hit these targets. I look forward to working with the legislature to make our proposal for clean, base-load generation law, as it represents a diversified and balanced approach that will be needed to achieve the commonwealth's greenhouse gas goals.”
Entergy will hold a press conference in Plymouth at noon today to discuss their decision. Entergy Wholesale Commodities President Bill Mohl will address the media at that time.