The State Public Service Commission Thursday morning unanimously approved the sale of the Fitzpatrick Nuclear Power Plant in Scriba.
The terms include the transfer of Fitzpatrick’s operating license to Exelon Corporation for $110 million. Before the plant is completely transferred, the agreement needs approval by Federal agencies.
Entergy planned to close the plant in January 2017, citing financial pressures in a turbulent market.
Nearly 600 people in Central New York are employed at the Scriba facility.
Town and county officials had said the plant’s closure would have had a $500 million impact on the local economy.
Exelon Corp. offered to buy Fitzpatrick if government agencies quickly approved a “zero-emissions credit” as part of a proposed New York State Clean Energy Standard.
Supporters said the credit would financially benefit upstate nuclear power plants for producing carbon-free power.
Opponents called the deal an expensive bailout for the nuclear industry.
First, the offer needed the PSC’s approval.
“It’s been shown that time and time again when you close a nuclear plant, that you’re going to get it replaced by fossil emissions which is exactly the opposite direction we want to go,” said Audrey Zibelman, Chair of the Public Service Commission.
Several people protested the PSC’s decision on Thursday, calling it a step backward.
Governor Andrew Cuomo had called for the state to cut emissions and have 50-percent renewable energy by 2030. The goal would give firms time to develop alternatives.
“Use nuclear power as a bridge tool to a generation in time when renewables can be more prominent. I believe that is a win-win for everyone,” said Town of Scriba Attorney Kevin Caraccioli.
The Fitzpatrick plant is said to produce enough electricity to power roughly 800,000 homes.
Protestors wanted a delay to offer more time for environmental impact studies. They’re pushing forward with a legal challenge.
“From the moment they start to dig the uranium out of the ground to the moment they decommission a plant decades after its construction, there is dirt and waste all along the way,” said Steve Breyman with Green Education and Legal Fund.
State Senator Patty Ritchie joined a chorus of elected officials representing Oswego County who said a delay would be economically devastating.
The deal must be approved by Federal agencies like the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Department of Justice. Then, the final transfer is expected in the second quarter of 2017.