With legislators revisiting a bill to subsidize nuclear power, the co-owners of the Salem nuclear plant in South Jersey will no longer fund capital projects at the generating station.

The announcement, made in a filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission Friday, comes in the wake of the Senate last week postponing a vote on a controversial measure that could have utility customers pay $300 million a year to prop up plants owned by Public Service Enterprise Group and Exelon.

The legislation (S-877) is being pushed by the companies, which have threatened to close two Salem nuclear units and the Hope Creek nuclear station if they do not win financial incentives to keep them open. In a further complication, the bill has been tied to other lucrative subsidies to advance Gov. Phil Murphy's clean energy agenda.

Ramping up pressure

The decision to suspend new investments at Salem is viewed by opponents of the bill as an attempt by PSEG to ramp up pressure on lawmakers to act on the bill. The spending suspension affects neither actions required by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission nor investments needed to ensure the units safe operation, according to the filing.

"It's more about politics than capital investments,'' argued Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, which opposes the bill. "It is part of their strategy to get billion dollars in subsidies.

"They should stay at the table and not use this kind of brinkmanship,'' agreed Ed Potosnak, executive director of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters.

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