(WBRE/WYOU-TV)   The 40th anniversary of the T-M-I incident comes as state lawmakers debate plans to assist the nuclear industry in Pennsylvania.

     Opponents of the proposal call it a “bailout”.

     Those discussions come as nuclear power plants face tough competition from the natural gas industry and renewable energy sources.  The I-Team’s Andy Mehalshick

Should the nuclear power industry be left to fend for itself? Some say that could lead to economic and environmental problems across the Commonwealth.

   “That could raise the cost of energy by close to 800 million dollars annually here in Pennsylvania and place more on the backs of ratepayers,” Said Senator John Yudichak, D-Luzerne- Carbon Counties.

 Senator John Yudichak argues that something has to be done to assist the nuclear energy industry in the Commonwealth.  Pointing out that about 1,000 people work at the nuclear power plant near Berwick.

  “Very important to our local economy. We want to protect jobs we want to continue Pennsylvania’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions in electric generation. The only way to do this is to keep nuclear in the fleet in the portfolio. I also want to incentivize other industries such as wind, solar, coal waste and the gas industries through methane capture,” Said Senator Yudichak.

 House Bill 11 was introduced two weeks ago.  It calls for rewarding energy generators that do not emit carbon dioxide. It could translate into a rate increase for ratepayers but supporters insist the loss of the nuclear industry in Pennsylvania would be devastating to the Commonwealth’s economy. The loss of 16,000 jobs.

  “They are good paying jobs that simply can’t be recreated once they are gone” Said State Representative Tom Mehaffie, D-Dauphin County.

 Talon Energy, which owns and operates the nuclear power plant near Berwick released a statement in support of House Bill 11.   “It not only includes price caps to mitigate the cost to consumers but also helps to avoid more than $700 million dollars in increased energy costs each year.”  

 But opponents to the bailout of the nuclear industry include anti-nuclear activists, the AARP and business groups. They argue that House Bill 11 means investing in outdated and inefficient power plants and it will only benefit profitable companies and their shareholders. The debate is sure to only intensify in the coming weeks and months.

House Bill 11 is now being debated.

     And a similar bill will soon be introduced in the state senate.

     Governor Tom Wolf has not taken a public stance on the bailout ideas.

If you want to receive BREAKING ALERTS, please download our Eyewitness News App. You can also follow Eyewitness News on Facebook and Twitter.