What they're saying: Officials weigh in on new energy standard, impact in Oswego Co.

The James A. FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant. Photo Courtesy Entergy Corp.

OSWEGO COUNTY -- Officials across the board are reacting to the state Public Service Commission's decision to adopt the Clean Energy Standard, bringing with it the possibility for two nuclear plants in Oswego County to stay open.

The measure sets a guideline for 50-percent of all energy used in the state to come from clean and renewable energy sources by 2030. Governor Andrew Cuomo's office says the plan brings an "aggressive phase in schedule" over the next few years as it requires energy suppliers to phase in renewable power sources; first to 26.31-percent of the state's total load in 2017 and then 30.54-percent by 2021 before reaching 50-percent in 2030. The governor's office estimates the new standard will cost less than $2 per month for the average residential customer.

"New York has taken bold action to become a national leader in the clean energy economy and is taking concrete, cost-effective steps today to safeguard this state’s environment for decades to come," Governor Cuomo said. "This Clean Energy Standard shows you can generate the power necessary for supporting the modern economy while combating climate change. Make no mistake, this is a very real threat that continues to grow by the day and I urge all other states to join us in this fight for our very future."

Last year Entergy Corp. set in motion a timeline to shut down the FitzPatrick Nuclear Plant in Scriba, citing years of financial losses. Exelon Corp., which owns two other nuclear plants in Oswego County, said it might be able to buy the FitzPatrick Nuclear Plant and keep it running, but said that could only happen if the Clean Energy Standard was approved. Monday's approval of the CES keeps the possibility of Exelon purchasing FitzPatrick on the table.

There was more at stake Monday than just the FitzPatrick plant. Earlier this year Exelon had said if those standards were not adopted, and the incentives are not given to green-energy producers like those in the nuclear energy business, it not only would have ended its talks to purchase FitzPatrick, but it also would have put one of its plants - Nine Mile 1 - on the path to closure. Exelon said this is because the plant needs to be refueled in March of 2017.

Several other officials, from local government, the energy industry and jobs advocates, have chimed in with their take on what the standard means.

Kevin Caraccioli, Scriba and City of Oswego Attorney:

Today we made some history. The PSC adopted the CES with the ZECs. A great effort by all. What seemed impossible 9 months ago (saving our nuclear plants) was made more possible today.

State Senator Patty Ritchie:

Today, everyone in Central New York—and especially in Oswego County—can breathe easier thanks to the State Public Service Commission’s decision to include nuclear in New York’s plan to reduce pollution-causing emissions from the production of electricity.
Not only does the new Clean Energy Standard (CES) spare thousands of jobs at nuclear power plants across the state, including those at James A. FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant and Nine Mile Point Nuclear Station, it also will result in a cleaner, healthier environment that will put New York at the forefront of a worldwide fight to control emissions.

Senate Energy Chair Joseph Griffo:

I applaud the Public Service Commission's decision today to approve a Clean Energy Standard (CES), in particular the portion of the CES that will prevent the premature closure of our State's nuclear facilities by establishing a system that is necessary to compensate these plants for the 24/7, zero-emission, high quality power that they generate.
I continue to strive toward a clean energy future for the State of New York, including: the addition of more renewable energy generation, greater energy efficiency, reliability for all consumers, improved transmission infrastructure, fuel source diversity, and innovative environmental stewardship, all at a reasonable cost to ratepayers.
While I remain concerned about the impact to ratepayers that the Clean Energy Standard would impose, I am pleased that many of my concerns have been addressed and I commend the hard work and dedication that the Department of Public Service has demonstrated to date. I will continue to work with stakeholders and my colleagues to closely monitor the implementation of the new CES and to ensure that our electric transmission, as well as fuel source infrastructure, is up to the task as we move forward to a cleaner, more reliable and resilient energy future.

Assemblyman Will Barclay:

I am pleased the PSC has ruled in favor of the new Clean Energy Standard and I am hopeful a deal to keep Fitzpatrick operational is put on the fast track because of it. This new standard will help save thousands of jobs and keep our electricity rates affordable without increasing our carbon emissions.

Assemblyman Robert Oaks:

The Public Service Commission’s decision on the Clean Energy Standard is fantastic news for the future of the Ginna Nuclear Power Plant in Wayne County and the Fitzpatrick and Nine Mile Point plants in Oswego County. This is a big win for workers at the plants, a win for our region and a win for the environment. By including nuclear power in the CES we now have a future that recognizes the value of nuclear power as an asset to achieving a cleaner environment as a bridge to our energy future.

Michael Treadwell, CEO of the County of Oswego Industrial Development Agency and UEJ member:

Today’s implementation of the CES is a momentous day for the state of New York, and more specifically, the upstate communities that have waited anxiously for months for this moment. Thousands of voices weighed in, and the state listened: in supporting our upstate nuclear facilities, the state is sending a clear message that it recognizes the enormous economic value that these plants bring, including nearly 25,000 jobs, $3.16 billion to state gross domestic product and $144 million in local and state revenue. Our communities across upstate and central New York, areas that are already struggling economically, simply could not afford to have these plants close, and we are grateful to be able to continue to rely upon these plants for all of their contributions.
We applaud Governor Cuomo and the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) for their commitment to ensuring upstate nuclear facilities remain in operation, and their acknowledgement of the fact that the benefits of keeping these plants open far outweigh the costs. As a result of the hard work by the Governor and the PSC, the CES will not only help solidify New York as a clean energy leader, but also ensure the upstate economy thrives well into the future. It is rare these days that a state and an administration has the strength to push forward and act on such challenging issues. Thankfully, New York has always been a trailblazer, and today’s implementation of the CES is no exception.

Tammy Holden, a spokesperson for the FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant:

Entergy applauds the New York State Public Service Commission for its decision today that recognizes the substantial contribution New York’s nuclear power facilities make to the state’s clean air. The state has adopted the first program in the country that values the zero-emission attributes of this essential clean energy resource. A Clean Energy Standard program that compensates zero-emission nuclear power facilities for their clean energy contribution, and includes all of the state's existing nuclear generators, is a groundbreaking and critically needed step forward.
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