State ponders nuclear power’s role in 50% by 2030 plan

The New York State Public Service Commission announced July 8 that it was seeking public comment how best to place value on the non-carbon emitting power generation from “upstate” nuclear plants.

It’s part of the drive by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) to increase the output of the state’s carbon-free electricity generation via a new Clean Energy Standard (CES).

The CES is a measure introduced by Cuomo that mandates 50% of all electricity consumed in New York by 2030 come from clean and renewable energy sources.

It’s worth noting that the PSC news release issued July 8 specifically notes “upstate” nuclear generation. While Cuomo has advocated keeping the upstate plants open, he has opposed 20-year license renewals for Units 2 and 3 of the Entergy (NYSE:ETR) Indian Point facility.

Units 2 and 3 are located less than 60 miles from New York City and the governor has opposed re-licensing by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

“Staff’s proposal values the zero-emissions attributes of the upstate fleet based on a [PSC]-approved approach for valuing the societal value of carbon,” according to the PSC news release. “Staff estimates that investing $965 million in the first two years of the program for the carbon value of the nuclear units, electric customers and the State will realize $5 billion in benefits,” the New York State PSC said.

Written comments on the staff’s proposal are due July 18. The comments that are received will be used to help the Commission in making its final determinations.

Staff’s proposal may be obtained by going to the Commission Documents section of the Commission’s Web site at www.dps.ny.gov and entering Case Number 15-E-0302 in the input box labeled “Search for Case/Matter Number”.

The Upstate Energy Jobs Coalition (UEJ), a group including elected representatives, business leaders, organized labor, education institutions, economic development organizations and community leaders, have voiced support for the PSC’s latest responsive proposal detailing the nuclear provision within the Clean Energy Standard.

 “Governor Cuomo and the PSC deserve to be recognized for issuing a proposal that would keep our upstate nuclear energy plants open, and in doing so, allow the state to meet its clean energy goals,” said L. Michael Treadwell, CEO of The County of Oswego Industrial Development Agency.

“The PSC’s findings are in line with the independent findings of the Brattle Group and the Navigant Group that affirm that the value of keeping New York’s upstate nuclear plants operating is substantial and far outweighs any costs associated with the program, the Upstate Energy Jobs Coalition said.

Upstate New York’s three nuclear energy plants – including the FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant and Nine Mile Point Nuclear Generating Station in Oswego County and Ginna Nuclear Generating Station in Wayne County – help power New York and provide jobs, clean air and reliable energy.

Here’s the rub: Entergy has already announced plans to retire Fitzpatrick while Exelon (NYSE:EXC) has been struggling to Ginna and Nine Mile Point operating.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.