FutureStructure

Nuclear Power Part of New York's Finalized Clean Energy Standard

The plan requires that 50 percent of New York’s electricity come from renewable energy sources, including wind, solar and hydro, by 2030 in an effort to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions.

by Brian Molongoski, Watertown Daily Times / August 3, 2016
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo proposed the state's Clean Energy Standard at the beginning of the year. Flickr/MTA New York City Transit

(TNS) — Nuclear energy will have a part in New York state’s Clean Energy Standard, which was passed by the Public Service Commission on Monday.

Set forth by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo at the beginning of the year, the plan requires that 50 percent of New York’s electricity come from renewable energy sources, including wind, solar and hydro, by 2030 in an effort to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions. The plan will be phased in over the next several years, with about 26 percent of the state powered by renewables by 2017 and 30 percent by 2021.

The PSC spent the last six months holding hearings across the state to collect public input. In May, a hearing was held in Oswego, and most people in attendance urged the commission to ensure nuclear power was included in the plan. While nuclear power is not considered renewable, it has no carbon emissions.

The inclusion of nuclear power could ensure the longevity of the James A. FitzPatrick and Nine Mile Point nuclear facilities in Oswego County. Each plant employs hundreds of workers. FitzPatrick’s corporate owner, Entergy, announced the plant’s shutdown late last year. State and local legislators have fought to keep it running since. FitzPatrick is currently in discussions to sell the facility to Exelon.

State Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, said she supports nuclear’s place in the plan. The state will provide nearly a billion dollars in subsidies that will benefit nuclear power facilities. According to the Washington Post, the PSC said it might cost $965 million over two years to maintain the state’s nuclear plants. However, there would be a net benefit of around $4 billion due to the value of lower carbon dioxide emissions.

“With today’s decision, we are taking a major step in protecting not only the strength of New York State’s energy grid, but also safeguarding the tremendous, economic benefits supported by nuclear plants,” Sen. Ritchie said in a statement. “I look forward to seeing how the new CES positively impacts our state’s economy, energy grid and environment.”

Sen. Joseph A. Griffo, R-Rome, said he is still concerned about how the plan will impact ratepayers, but he is glad the plan will account for nuclear power. According to Gov. Cuomo’s office, the plan will cost less than $2 a month in the average residential customer’s bill.

“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,” Sen. Griffo said.

Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell, D-Theresa, said she supported the PSC’s inclusion of nuclear energy, having sent a letter to commission members before the plan was brought to vote.

©2016 Watertown Daily Times (Watertown, N.Y.), Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.