Workers await PSC decision that could keep nuclear power plants open

Fitzpatrick Nuclear Power Plant may have a buyer if state subsidies are approved

TOWN OF SCRIBA (WSYR-TV) - Workers at the nuclear power plants in Oswego County may get some answers about their futures on Monday morning.

New York's Public Service Commission (PSC) is expected to finalize a new Clean Energy Standard that could include financial help for nuclear power plants.

Many business leaders, politicians, and workers believe the outcome will determine if both the Fitzpatrick and Nine Mile One plants in Scriba - stay open or shut down.

Last year, the news dropped like a boulder when the owner of Fitzpatrick Nuclear Power Plant announced the facility would close next year, eliminating several hundreds jobs.

In October, workers rallied to save the plant. Many cited a volatile market and called for state subsidies to help Upstate nuclear power plants survive as a reward for producing power with zero carbon emissions.

For months, the PSC weighed the idea as part of a new clean energy plan, requested by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

As time ticked - another boulder dropped. The owner of the Nine Mile 1 reactor announced it could also face closure unless commissioners act quickly.

Shortly after the company's warning was issued, the public comment period on the clean energy plan was extended by the PSC. Though, a spokesperson said the agency was on target to finalize the details this summer.

Opponents of subsidies call the idea a government bailout.

Supporters say energy credits will protect jobs.

"Once you close a nuclear plant - you don't just turn the switch back on," says Ted Skerpon, the president of I.B.E.W. Local Union 97.

Skerpon and other union leaders will be part of a group from Oswego County that will travel to Albany Monday for a rally before the PSC's meeting.

Then, they'll claim seats inside, hoping to show a strong presence to commissioners. Skerpon says he is cautiously optimistic.

"The presence is very important....just to show that these are lives. These are human beings we are talking about. It is not just brick and mortar," Skerpon says. "A lot of lives will be impacted by this."

The owner of the Nine Mile facilities has expressed interest in buying the Fitzpatrick plant if they agree with the amount of subsidies and the timeline for approvals and payouts.

The Public Service Commission meeting is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m.


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