April 27 (Reuters) - New Jersey utility regulators on Tuesday voted unanimously to extend subsidies, called Zero Emission Certificates (ZECs), for the state's three nuclear power reactors at Salem and Hope Creek for an additional three years.
The reactors are owned in whole or in part by units of New Jersey energy company Public Service Enterprise Group Inc (PSEG) and Illinois energy company Exelon Corp.
In 2018, New Jersey enacted legislation that established a Zero Emission Certificate program to preserve nuclear plants that provide more than 90% of the state's carbon-free electricity.
Analysts at ClearView Energy Partners said the plants will continue to receive about $285 million to $300 million per year from the ZEC program, and PSEG and Exelon appear unlikely to threaten plant closures.
Both companies have threatened to close reactors in New Jersey and other states if they do not receive some sort of state or federal financial support.
Several U.S. states, including Illinois, New York and Connecticut, have provided subsidies to keep nuclear plants in service because they provide large amounts of power without carbon emissions, employ hundreds or workers and pay taxes to local communities.
Cheap gas from record shale production and rising use of renewable sources of power have kept electric prices relatively low in New Jersey and much of the country in recent years.
That makes it uneconomic for generators in competitive states like New Jersey to continue operating nuclear plants, which are expensive to run.
New Jersey wants to get all of its power from clean, non-carbon dioxide-emitting sources of generation like renewables and nuclear by 2050.
"We are pleased with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities' unanimous decision to extend the ZECs at the current rate to help support New Jersey's largest supply of carbon-free electricity," PSEG said in a statement.
(Reporting by Scott DiSavino Editing by Bill Berkrot)