Communities Plan for Life After Nuclear Power Plants

Nuclear power plants around the country are shutting down. The communities where nuclear plants have been located for decades will now have to figure out how to rebuild their economies without them.

1 minute read

June 14, 2017, 2:00 PM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Nuclear Power

Three Mile Island is located in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. | Dobresum / Shutterstock

"There’s at least one thing worse than having a nuclear power plant in your town," writes Alan Greenblatt. "That’s having your nuclear power plant shut down."

Greenblatt sums up the issues that arise after a nuclear plant closes:

For obvious reasons, nuclear power plants were mostly built in fairly remote places, away from population centers. But they’re big facilities, with highly paid staff. When one of them closes, it can leave enormous holes in the local tax base.

The occasion for Greenblatt's analysis is the recent announcement by Exelon Corp that it will close down Three Mile Island in 2019. Three Mile Island is the site of the worst nuclear disaster in U.S. history, so Greenblatt's lede is all the more pointed.

Greenblatt says previous plant closures have preceded population losses and increased taxes. When the Vermont Yankee plant in Vernon, Vermont shut down in 2014, the local economy lost $100 million of activity. Another case study is offered by San Luis Obispo, in California, where the Diablo Canyon reactor is shutting down. Greenblatt suggests such towns will be challenged by implementing a new lens for their long-term strategic planning: one without the built in economic engine of a nuclear power plant.

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