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The Three Mile Island nuclear power generating station, shown here Monday, March 28, 2011 in Middletown, Pa., continues to generate electric power with the Unit 1 reactor. TMI was the scene of the 1979 meltdown of the Unit 2 reactor, the worst nuclear power plant disaster in the United states. (AP Photo/Bradley C Bower)

(Harrisburg) — A senior Republican state lawmaker says Pennsylvania should try to save its nuclear power plants in case it needs a more diverse energy supply in the future.

Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman said Monday that he opposes adding a charge to ratepayer bills to subsidize the plants, something other states have done.

Rather, Corman says a better approach is one advocated by sympathetic lawmakers.

That would give Pennsylvania’s five nuclear plants the same preferential treatment as solar power, wind power and several other niche energy sources under a 2004 state law that requires utilities to buy certain amounts of electricity from them.

Without a state rescue, Three Mile Island’s owner says it plans to shut it down Sept. 30 while Beaver Valley nuclear station’s owner says it’ll shut it down by 2021.