Owners of Nine Mile 1 reactor say plant will likely close without subsidies

Photo Courtesy County of Oswego Industrial Development Agency

SCRIBA, N.Y. -- A letter from the owners of the Nine Mile 1 nuclear reactor to state officials says the plant will likely close if no new "clean energy" subsidies are put in place by September.

In Exelon Corp.'s letter to the state's Public Service Commission, the company says it will not undertake the cost of refueling the plant - which the company estimates to be $55 million - unless a contract is in place guaranteeing the company more funding to offset its losses. The plant requires refueling in March 2017.

The company says in its letter that the refueling process typically takes between nine to twelve months complete, but that process can be accelerated to six months for an "additional expense." For that reason, the company says it would need to make its decision on whether to order the fuel for its reactor by the end of September 2016. That means the company would need a contract in hand that ensures it will receive additional funding, according to the letter.

In the letter the company says it "cannot simply roll the dice and make substantial investments in the hope that the program ultimately adopted by the Commission is sufficient to justify the substantial investments and commitments required to enable continued operation," the letter says. It goes on to say, "Time is of the essence."

The company issued the following statement:

The timeline for addressing detailed mechanics of a final Clean Energy Standard (CES) for New York state energy consumers is tight. Exelon has been candid and transparent with all parties in the CES process on the importance of achieving a CES in a timely manner.
We continue working very closely with all stakeholders to finalize a CES that properly values upstate nuclear units for their clean energy and reliability attributes.
We will maintain as much transparency as possible on the timing of reaching a CES agreement and the impact of that schedule on our decision making process for upcoming plant operations milestones like refueling outages.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has said taxpayer funded subsidies are essential to keep nuclear plants operating, which would be state money flowing to the plants to keep them viable amid competition from low-cost natural gas.

The state's incentive plan is a ten year, $5 billion fund, but so far there is no clear directive on how that money would be doled out.

If the Nine Mile 1 reactor were to be shut down, it would be the second plant to close in Oswego County. Last fall it was announced that one of the three nuclear power plants in Oswego County - Entergy's FitzPatrick plant - would be shut down by the end of 2016 or early 2017.

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