Public Service Commission offers Oswego County nuke plant rescue plan

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The Public Service Commission is offering a rescue plan to keep the Fitzpatrick Nuclear Power Plant open in Oswego County.

The proposal says the plant could be ready for refueling in June, if Entergy accepts their offer for financial help.

First, the PSC would have to review Entergy’s books to see how much would truly be necessary for them to stay open.

The company would have to agree to apply for this help before the wheels can get moving.

Entergy has said the Fitzpatrick plant is struggling financially.

The state is exploring a zero emissions credit, to offer nuclear power plants a financial incentive for providing clean energy.  But, that won’t happen immediately.

That’s why the PSC is offering expedited financial support to tide the company over until the state can work out an energy credit for Fitzpatrick and other plants.

The plan would have to go through a public comment process first – and identify a funding source.

Theodore Skerpon, president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local union 97, said he’s anxious to hear how Entergy will respond.

“In the past, Entergy has said they truly want to keep the plant open. This is one way they could make Fitzpatrick profitable. It is one piece of the puzzle that we think is definitely needed to help them make new profits,” Skerpon said. “Now, the ball is in Entergy’s court.”

As recently as last week, the plant was scheduled to close by January 2017.

Mike Twomey, vice president of external affairs at Entergy EWC said, “We have not received a definitive proposal from the state of New York since our settlement talks ended in late 2015. What we’ve read in the NYPSC’s press release today doesn’t provide us with any more certainty than we had in late 2015. Today’s press release by the NYPSC will not change Entergy’s decision to close the FitzPatrick plant.” 

Twomey said that while the company shares the NYPSC’s concerns about the loss of nuclear generation, the financial implications of its efforts are too uncertain and this proposal comes too late to save FitzPatrick

Entergy met with New York State officials from the Governor’s office and with the PSC repeatedly over the last few years to discuss how the current New York market structure disadvantages nuclear generation, how nuclear power’s carbon-free attributes could be recognized in the market, and the financial challenges faced by the FitzPatrick plant. 

According to the PSC, a report by the New York Independent System Operator indicated that the plant’s closure would create concerns regarding reliable energy.

These discussions resulted in no meaningful progress or policy changes by New York State, Twomey said. 

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