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Cuomo’s costly nuclear plant bailout – financially and ethically wrong

taxpayer-bailout-exelonStop Cuomo’s costly nuclear plant bailout http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/stop-cuomo-costly-nuclear-plant-bailout-article-1.2980738 BY  NEW YORK DAILY NEWS  Friday, February 24, 2017, New Yorkers shouldn’t have to pay for energy they will never use. Which is why Gov. Cuomo should be consistent and close, along with Indian Point, three other outdated nuclear power plants near Rochester and Oswego.

Instead, he is taking $7.6 billion from New York ratepayers and giving it to a hugely profitable, Illinois-based energy company to keep the three plants open.

The governor says he needs the plants operational in order to meet his renewable energy goals, but that’s false. New York can meet its goals on time with wind, solar and hydroelectric power, a Stanford University study recently found. Cuomo should get on the same page as California and get serious about replacing nuclear power with safe, affordable and clean energy. It can be done.

A bailout of upstate nuclear power plants is going to be the largest transfer of wealth from government to a single corporation in New York’s history, and it runs counter to what energy experts are telling us about job growth potential from real renewables.

Most importantly, it flies in the face of pure common sense.

Exelon is the lucky recipient of our money. A Fortune 100 company with annual revenues over $34 billion, it spent $430,000 on lobbying in New York in the past two years, including to obtain subsidies for its plants under the governor’s Clean Energy Standard, which requires half of the state’s eletricity to be produced by renewable sources by 2030.

Yet to prop up the plants, Cuomo has essentially levied a new tax that increases everyone’s utility bills, including local governments. For example, the City of New York will pay $208 million more over 12 years. The cities of Buffalo and Yonkers will pay over $3 million each.

Anyone who pays for electricity will be on the hook: residents, businesses, municipalities, hospitals, schools. Con Ed residential customers will see their bills go up by $700 million, Long Island by $500 million and Niagara Mohawk consumers by $465 million.

It all goes to Exelon.

It’s odd that Cuomo would plow money into these aging upstate plants at the very same time he’s moving to shutter the Indian Point plant near New York City out of concern for safety. Surely the governor is not saying the dangers posed to people and property upstate are less real than those downstate.

Here are five other reasons why the governor has this wrong.

One, nearly 800,000 New Yorkers are behind on their electric bills already. That number will surely increase when Exelon gets more of on our hard-earned money.

Two, it’s geographically skewed. The formula would force New York City, Long Island and some Westchester County customers to pay 60% of costs while using very little of the power generated upstate.

Three, only the governor, Public Service Commission and Exelon have seen this bailout “contract” with Exelon. Yet the decision is proceeding despite pleas from New Yorkers for public hearings and numerous attempts to obtain the document through the Freedom of Information Law.

Four, in New York, clean energy already provides more jobs than the nuclear industry by orders of magnitude — with the potential for astromical future growth. Statewide, estimates range from 85,000 to 180,000 jobs in clean energy, such as solar, wind, energy retrofits, heat pumps and other efficiencies, compared to 3,250 jobs at Indian Point and the other three nuclear plants combined.

Last — hardest to quantify but most important, at least to me — is the matter of moral leadership. Pope Francis has written on the state’s responsibility to promote the common good through dialogue and consensus-building. During his address to the U.S. Congress last year, he quoted from his encyclical “Laudato Si,” about care for the Earth, our common home: “ ‘We have the freedom needed to limit and direct technology’; ‘to devise intelligent ways of . . . developing and limiting our power’; and to put technology ‘at the service of another type of progress, one which is healthier, more human, more social, more integral.’ ”

Supporting aging nuclear plants won’t get us to the future he envisions. Only wholeheartedly embracing energy efficiency and renewable energy will.

Brisotti is pastor of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal parish in Wyandanch, L.I.

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February 25, 2017 - Posted by | Religion and ethics, USA

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