Exelon, others react to New York PSC approval of new clean energy goals

The state of New York has solidified its position as the nation’s leader on advancing clean, zero-emissions energy with the passage of the state’s Clean Energy Standard (CES), Exelon Corp. (NYSE: EXC) said Aug. 1 following the New York Public Service Commission’s approval of the CES.

“Today is a historic day for New York and the energy industry, and we applaud Governor Andrew Cuomo and his Administration for their leadership,” said Chris Crane, president and CEO, Exelon. “Approval of the Clean Energy Standard makes New York a true leader in terms of support for zero-emissions energy, including both renewables and nuclear power.”

The CES will save thousands of high-paying jobs and spur hundreds of millions of dollars in short-term investments in energy infrastructure in upstate New York. The company said it will review the commission’s order over the next several days.

“With the Clean Energy Standard, we’ll immediately invest hundreds of millions of dollars right back into the upstate economy, which will have a long-term positive impact across the state,” Crane said. As Exelon has previously indicated, approval of the program means the company will reinvest approximately $200 million in the plants in spring of 2017.

Exelon operates two nuclear facilities in upstate New York: R.E. Ginna and Nine Mile Point. Together, the two plants produce 2.4 billion watts of zero-carbon electric capacity. Without the CES, these plants would have been at risk of closure.

Exelon said on July 13 that it had entered into discussions with Entergy to potentially purchase the James A. FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant in Scriba, New York. Those negotiations can continue now that the CES has been approved, providing an opportunity to prevent the plant from being shut down, Exelon said.

A New York PSC analysis released April 18 said that FitzPatrick produces more than $1 billion in economic value annually to New York. An independent study published by The Brattle Group in December found similar economic benefits.

The Upstate Energy Jobs Coalition (UEJ), a group representing hundreds of business, education and labor leaders throughout upstate and central New York, released an Aug. 1 statement praising the nuclear provision in the CES as a way to save upstate nuclear facilities Ginna, Nine Mile Point and FitzPatrick through the creation of a first-of-its-kind zero emissions credit for the carbon-free power that they produce.

Said L. Michael Treadwell, CEO of the County of Oswego Industrial Development Agency and UEJ member: “Today’s implementation of the CES is a momentous day for the state of New York, and more specifically, the upstate communities that have waited anxiously for months for this moment. Thousands of voices weighed in, and the state listened: in supporting our upstate nuclear facilities, the state is sending a clear message that it recognizes the enormous economic value that these plants bring, including nearly 25,000 jobs, $3.16 billion to state gross domestic product and $144 million in local and state revenue. Our communities across upstate and central New York, areas that are already struggling economically, simply could not afford to have these plants close, and we are grateful to be able to continue to rely upon these plants for all of their contributions.”

The industry group Nuclear Matters also released an Aug. 1 statement supporting the nuclear provision.

“Today’s vote helps officially cement New York’s status as a clean energy leader by properly valuing the carbon-free energy that existing nuclear power plants provide. In addition to ensuring ample opportunity for more wind, solar, and energy efficiency, the state, in recognizing the important role of existing carbon-free nuclear power, can set the standard for a comprehensive approach to a low-carbon energy portfolio and will encourage other policymakers and regulators to similarly value nuclear energy for its clean air benefits,” said Carol Browner, former EPA Administrator and Nuclear Matters Leadership Council member. “Governor Cuomo importantly recognizes the role that all types of carbon-free power can and must play in helping us achieve our clean energy goals.”

“The need to reduce carbon emissions is a priority in the state of New York and across the country,” said Nuclear Matters co-chair former Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH). “Yet, as we work to obtain a cleaner energy future, too many existing nuclear plants, which are responsible for the bulk of our carbon-free power, have had to shutter due to the fact that they have not been properly valued for the reliable and clean energy that they produce. As of today, though, this may no longer the case. In potentially recognizing the zero-carbon footprint of nuclear energy the same way other carbon-free sources of energy are recognized, New York can send a signal that it is worth keeping these valuable assets online for the benefit of the environment and economy for years to come. If other states and policymakers are serious about reducing carbon, they should look to New York to understand how to implement a common-sense solution that takes a broad view, and helps keeps nuclear energy on the table today for the sake of a cleaner energy future tomorrow.

Nuclear Matters is focused on raising awareness of the benefits of America’s existing nuclear energy fleet, and working with industry, government and other stakeholders to promote policy solutions that properly value nuclear energy as a reliable, affordable and carbon-free electricity resource. Supporters of Nuclear Matters include a range of companies and organizations in the energy industry, including Ameren Missouri, Arizona Public Service, AREVA, Black & Veatch, Dominion, Duke Energy, Nebraska Public Power District, NextEra Energy, Pacific Gas and Electric, Tennessee Valley Authority and Westinghouse Electric.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.