We disagree strongly with your Sept. 13 editorial “Too risky to wait for Pilgrim plant’s shutdown.” The facts support our position that the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station will operate safely through its planned shutdown date in 2019.
Pilgrim is a learning organization. When performance met neither our nor the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s standards a few years ago, we took strong action to identify and correct deficiencies. For 2014, our capacity factor was 97 percent — better than any other generator in New England. Even with the planned refueling outage in 2015, we were online 85 percent of the time, and through August 2016 the plant was online more than 94 percent of the time.
In a state concerned about meeting its climate change goals, early closure of a safely operated plant that provides near-round-the-clock electricity for more than 680,000 homes, with virtually zero carbon emissions, should not be sought. It is useful to note that following the closure of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in 2014, New England’s carbon dioxide emissions increased by 5 percent.
The more than 600 professionals at Pilgrim are dedicated to safe, reliable operation every day. In addition, the independent experts at the NRC, including resident inspectors on site, make sure this is the case. If it were not safe, we would not operate the plant, and the NRC would not allow us to.
We have invested more than $500 million in plant safety upgrades and new equipment, including $70 million during a planned refueling outage last spring. And, according to an independent report prepared for the Town of Plymouth, Pilgrim contributes more than $150 million a year to the area, as measured in economic impact.
Now is the time to continue to plan how to replace the environmental, economic, and electric system benefits that Pilgrim has provided to New England for more than 40 years. This will be no easy task, and the implications for the region’s clean energy future are enormous. Meanwhile, we will work diligently on operating the plant safely and meeting our electric power supply obligations.