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PSC approves New York’s clean-energy standard with ratepayer subsidy to keep nuclear plants open

By Eric Reinhardt


The James A. FitzPatrick nuclear-power plant in Scriba. Photo credit: Entergy website.

ALBANY, N.Y. — The New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) approved New York’s clean-energy standard, a decision that the IBEW union contends will keep the James A. FitzPatrick nuclear-power plant in Scriba operating “well into the future.”

IBEW is short for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, which represents workers at the FitzPatrick plant and others in upstate New York.

In a news release about the PSC approval, the office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo describes the clean-energy standard as the “most comprehensive and ambitious clean-energy mandate in the state’s history, to fight climate change, reduce harmful air pollution, and ensure a diverse and reliable energy supply.”

Under the standard, utility customers in the state will pay almost “$500 million a year in subsidies aimed at keeping some upstate nuclear power plants operating,” according to a Monday New York Times article.

Cuomo’s office said that will cost less than $2 a month to the average residential customer’s bill.

The clean-energy standard (CES) will require 50 percent of New York’s electricity to come from renewable-energy sources like wind and solar by 2030, with an “aggressive,” phase-in schedule over the next several years, it added.

In its initial phase, utilities and other energy suppliers will be required to procure and phase in new renewable-power resources starting with 26.31 percent of the state’s total electricity load in 2017 and grow to 30.54 percent of the statewide total in 2021.

Plant sale discussions
New Orleans, Louisiana–based Entergy Corp. (NYSE: ETR), which owns the FitzPatrick nuclear-power plant, on July 13 announced that it is in discussions with Exelon Corp. (NYSE: EXC) for the potential sale of the FitzPatrick nuclear-power plant.

Entergy on Nov. 2, 2015 announced plans to close and decommission the plant.

The FitzPatrick facility employs more than 600 workers, who would lose their jobs with its closure.

Chicago, Illinois–based Exelon operates the Nine Mile Point nuclear-power station, which is also located in Scriba.

Bill Mohl, president of Entergy wholesale commodities, indicated in a news release that the company is “working with Exelon to come to commercial terms on a sale transaction that depends largely on the final terms and timeliness of the New York State Clean Energy Standard.”

The effort, according to Mohl, is part of Entergy’s corporate strategy “to move away from merchant power markets and toward a company operating exclusively as a utility in regulated markets.”

In addition to the clean-energy standard, any transaction between Entergy and Exelon would be subject to completion of “definitive” commercial agreements, as well as regulatory approvals, Entergy said.

IBEW reaction
The CES includes a nuclear provision that will “value Upstate nuclear plants for the carbon-free energy that they produce,” the IBEW said in a statement released Monday afternoon.

Ted Skerpon, chairman of the IBEW Utility Labor Council of New York, issued the following statement in reaction to the PSC decision.

“Thanks to Gov. Cuomo and the [PSC], our Upstate nuclear plants, Ginna, Nine Mile Point and FitzPatrick, will continue to operate well into the future, providing clean energy today to help us meet our clean energy goals of tomorrow,” said Skerpon.

Additional reaction
The implementation of the CES makes this a “momentous day” for the state of New York and the Upstate communities that have “waited anxiously for months for this moment,” L. Michael Treadwell, CEO of the County of Oswego Industrial Development Agency and member of the Upstate Energy Jobs Coalition, said in a statement released Monday afternoon.

However, not everyone is happy with the PSC’s decision. The Business Council of New York State, Inc., a business-advocacy organization, also released a statement on the decision.

“With today’s action, it is clear the Public Service Commission has failed to properly evaluate the significant costs associated with the Clean Energy Standard. This failure will cost New York State businesses billions of dollars and put current and future New York manufacturing jobs, and jobs in other energy-intensive sectors, in mortal danger. Had the PSC properly understood the cost of this policy, the Commission could have modified the Clean Energy Standard to ensure that electric power was provided at just and reasonable rates for all customers,” Darren Suarez, director of government affairs for the Business Council, said.

Contact Reinhardt at

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