Only Nuclear Power Plant in Massachusetts to Close by 2019

Facing pressure from the feds, Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station’s owners cite poor market conditions.

Massachusetts will lose its only nuclear power plant by summer 2019.

Entergy Corporation, owners of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth, announced their decision Tuesday to close the 43-year-old plant by June 1, 2019, citing “poor market conditions, reduced revenues and increased operational costs.”

“The decision to close Pilgrim was incredibly difficult because of the effect on our employees and the communities in which they work and live,” Entergy chairman and CEO Leo Denault said in a press release. “But market conditions and increased costs led us to reluctantly conclude that we have no option other than to shut down the plant.”

In September, the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) downgraded Pilgrim to the bottom of the performance list of the country’s 99 operating reactors, one step above mandatory shutdown, citing the company’s failure to address the factors that led to the plant’s high number of unplanned, forced shutdowns and equipment failures. (Only two other plants are in similarly low standing: Arkansas Nuclear One and Arkansas Nuclear Two, also owned by Entergy, which employs 13,000.)

“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,” Gov. Charlie Baker said Tuesday in a release. “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.”

Though the AP reports the plant requires millions of dollars in improvements, Pilgrim was relicensed for an additional 20 years in 2012. The plant generates 680 megawatts of electricity, powering more than 600,000 homes.

With the closing of Pilgrim, Massachusetts will be one of 21 states without a nuclear power plant. The Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station, built the same year as Pilgrim, is currently undergoing decommissioning; its reactor was permanently shut down in December 2014. Seabrook Station in New Hampshire and Millstones Two and Three in Connecticut are still in operation.