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Alarm at the push to bail out Central New York nuclear plants

taxpayer bailoutCritics sound alarm over rush to bail out Central New York nuclear plants, Syracuse.Com, By Tim Knauss | tknauss@syracuse.com , 17 June 16  SYRACUSE, N.Y. – The state’s frantic effort to save Upstate nuclear plants is drawing cheers from Oswego County. But it’s also raising alarms from critics who worry that key decisions about state energy policy are being rushed without enough public debate.

Exelon Corp.’s recent threat to close the Nine Mile 1 and Ginna nuclear reactors if it doesn’t get a subsidy from utility ratepayers by September has drawn barbed complaints from business, municipal and green energy advocates.

Critics point out that Exelon is asking the state Public Service Commission to determine how much of a subsidy the company’s nukes could get before the commission has even determined to what extent nuclear power should be subsidized.

Exelon “appears to be attempting an end run around the commission-established process,” wrote Albany attorney Michael Mager, who represents 60 large commercial and industrial utility customers in PSC rate proceedings. “The last thing that New York needs now is some ‘backroom deal.’ ”

Utility ratepayers could be on the hook for hundreds of millions in higher energy bills if the nuclear subsidies are approved – money that many renewable energy advocates would prefer to see spent on wind or solar power……..

A sudden focus on nuclear issues

The New York state energy plan, issued last year after much deliberation and 100,000 comments from the public, set an ambitious goal to make half of New York’s power from renewable energy by 2030. The plan barely mentioned nuclear power.

But hard times at Upstate’s nuclear plants – and hardball tactics by the owners – have suddenly forced Albany leaders to place a value on nuclear’s role in meeting the goals. Exelon’s recent ultimatum is the latest instance of brinksmanship during the past year from New York’s two nuclear operators.

Entergy Corp. last September threatened to close its 850-megawatt FitzPatrick plant in Scriba. After weeks of negotiations with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, punctuated by a war of words, Entergy made good on the threat and scheduled the shutdown for January 2017.

Now a similar warning has come from Exelon, the nation’s largest utility company, which owns the two-unit Nine Mile Point Nuclear Station near Oswego and the Ginna reactor in Wayne County.

Exelon has suggested in regulatory filings at the PSC that it is looking for a 12-year agreement that guarantees revenue of about $1 billion a year for its three Upstate reactors, an increase over what it makes now selling power in the wholesale market. The company did not estimate how much of a subsidy that would require…….

Based on current wholesale prices, two anti-nuclear groups estimated that subsidizing the two Nine Mile units and the Ginna plant would cost at least $190 million a year. In a filing with the PSC, the Alliance for a Green Economy and the Nuclear Information and Referral Service said their estimate was conservative……..http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2016/06/critics_sound_alarm_over_rush_to_bail_out_central_new_york_nuclear_plants.html

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June 17, 2016 - Posted by | politics, USA

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