SHIPPINGPORT — The push to keep open the Beaver Valley Nuclear Power Station has gained another supporter in the person of recently elected U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb.
Lamb, D-18, Mount Lebanon, doesn’t represent Beaver County but will face off against incumbent U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus, R-12, Sewickley, in November’s general election for the right to represent the newly formed 17th Congressional District. That district will include all of Beaver County.
Lamb, who was sworn into office in March after winning a tight special election, sent a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Wednesday, urging it to allow states to enact policies or subsidies for nuclear plants that are struggling to compete against cheap natural gas.
In the letter to the FERC commissioners, Lamb said he recently visited the Beaver Valley plant and was impressed by its “world-class efficiency, safety and reliability.”
“Given the opportunity to participate in fair markets, I am confident the plant would be very competitive,” Lamb said. “As the commonwealth considers proactive measures to ensure these plants continue operation, Pennsylvania’s ability to do so should not be unnecessarily restricted.”
FirstEnergy Corp., the parent company that owns the Shippingport plant, has said it will deactivate Beaver Valley within the next three years if a buyer isn’t found. The company has maintained its desire to exit the power-generation business in competitive electricity markets such as Pennsylvania.
The company has repeatedly asked that nuclear plants be recognized, and even compensated, for their zero-carbon emissions and for the role they play in the overall electric grid.
In his letter Wednesday, Lamb agreed that nuclear facilities provide certain benefits not found in other forms of power generation.
“It is clear these plants provide critical reliability and resilience attributes to the grid, in addition to a range of other benefits that other generation resources cannot,” Lamb said.
Lamb asked the federal agency to respect “states’ rights and autonomy” when it comes to enacting policies that could affect the electric grid and generation.
The congressman also got the chance to speak to Secretary of Energy Rick Perry on Wednesday during a hearing in which he proposed working with Perry to find a solution to stave off the closure of Beaver Valley.
Lamb is the latest politician to throw his support behind the nuclear plant. Rothfus, who also recently toured the facility, has sent two letters to President Donald Trump to advocate on the plant’s behalf, while several state politicians have also expressed concern over the plant’s possible closure.