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Analysis Finds Benefits of Keeping Upstate Nuclear Power Plants Open Far Exceed Costs

SYRACUSE, NY – The total benefits of preserving upstate nuclear plants through a proposed Clean Energy Standard (CES) exceed the costs. And, in the early years of the CES (up until 2023), more than 75% of the carbon avoided by the program is directly attributable to preserving upstate nuclear.

This is according to an assessment of the New York State Department of Public Service (DPS) Benefit-Cost Analysis Study of the CES by The Brattle Group, proving that nuclear energy is a cost effective and critical bridge to meeting New York’s goal of reaching 50% renewables by 2030.

The report also highlights that:

·         The Tier 3 component of the CES, which would preserve upstate nuclear plants, is responsible for over 50% of the CES program’s lifetime financial benefits from carbon avoidance, despite incurring only 21% of the program’s overall costs;

·         This power cost savings enables an additional $3.16 billion in annual GDP;

·         Incorporating the GDP and the environmental benefits together, the total benefits of preserving the upstate nuclear plants exceed program costs by a factor of over 70;

·         Purely from the perspective of ratepayer costs, the benefits of keeping electricity prices low are 36 times greater than the program costs to support the upstate nuclear plants;

·         Continued plant operations accounts for over 24,000 full time direct and indirect jobs, over and above the jobs that would exist without the plants.

“The Brattle analysis clearly makes the case for supporting the CES as a cost-effective way to keep upstate nuclear plants open and to ensure the State can accomplish its goal of reducing carbon emissions 40% by 2030,” said Ted Skerpon, chairman of the New York State IBEW Utility Labor Council. “We cannot afford to have upstate nuclear plants close, as this would result in significant emissions increases, rate increases in electricity bills, and thousands of job losses. Premature nuclear plant shutdowns would also come at the detriment of the reliability of the electricity grid.”

The value of keeping upstate nuclear plants open increases further when considering that continued plant operations would result in $2.5 billion per year in total emissions and electricity savings for New Yorkers, based on findings from a report released in December 2015, “New York’s Upstate Nuclear Power Plants’ Contribution to the State Economy.”

“Not only do upstate nuclear plants, including Ginna, FitzPatrick and Nine Mile Point, benefit the environment and consumers by producing clean, carbon-free energy, and help preserve the fuel diversity and reliable electricity supply that helps power our homes and businesses, they also provide thousands of well-paying jobs that support families and their communities, and are key drivers of New York’s economy,” said Gregory Lancette, president of the Central and Northern New York Building and Construction Trades Council. “The Building and Construction Trades Council and New York State IBEW Utility Labor Council strongly support the swift and timely implementation of the CES to ensure the continued operation of New York’s upstate nuclear energy plants.”

“Based on our analysis, implementing the CES will avoid a significant amount of carbon emissions that would occur if the plants retired and cost far less than the adverse effects, including lost economic contributions and jobs, that would result if New York’s upstate nuclear plants were to cease operation,” said Dr. Mark Berkman, co-author of the report and a principal at The Brattle Group.  “The CES would go a long way towards ensuring the continued viability of these nuclear facilities, thereby preserving their role in contributing to the state’s economy and environment.”

The DPS report illustrates the sources of the CES’s carbon avoidance benefits.  It shows that Tier 3’s support of upstate nuclear generation will provide the large majority of the CES’s near-term carbon savings.[1]  In fact, not until 2028 do Tiers 1 and 2 match nuclear’s carbon savings even on an annual basis.

This means that the Tier 3 nuclear component of the CES is not only the largest, but also the most cost-effective component of the CES plan.

NY Brattle Graphic
DPS Study Chart Illustrates Nuclear (Tier 3) is a Bridge to New York’s Low Carbon Future

“As an association of 18 individual trades whose mission is to support the working men and woman of our local construction industry, the significance of our upstate nuclear energy plants, especially in the Rochester area, cannot be overstated,” said Dave Young, president of the Rochester Building and Construction Trades Council.  “Nuclear energy is critical to keeping the lights on and powering the economy and these jobs in our region.”

The report was prepared for the New York State IBEW Utility Labor Council, Rochester Building & Construction Trades Council and Central and Northern New York Building & Construction Trades Council by The Brattle Group.  A link to the report can be found here: http://brattle.com/system/news/pdfs/000/001/046/original/Comments_on_the_New_York_DPS_%282%29.pdf?1461186199.

[1] DPS Report, page 284.  The DPS projects that renewables will eventually catch up with nuclear in terms of cumulative carbon savings, in a longer-term projection that accounts for the full lifetime output of renewables installed in 2030, as the nuclear units are retiring at the end of their license lives.

The Central-Northern New York Building & Construction Trades Council represents approximately 5,000 construction workers and 17 member unions that are highly skilled in a wide array of crafts. These men and women are an intricate part of New York’s workforce, our region’s economy, and future economic prosperity. Learn more: http://www.cnnybtc.org/

The IBEW Utility Labor Council of New York represents over 15,000 IBEW Utility Workers in 18 IBEW Local Unions across New York State. They lobby and advocate for laws and regulation that ensures the safety of utility workers across New York State. The Utility Labor Council is a voice for utility workers in government, and they stride to work with New York’s elected leadership to find reasonable solutions to New York’s energy solvency issue. Understanding that energy technologies are constantly changing, the Utility Labor Council works to train and re-train New York’s utility workforce and create and maintain good jobs. The Utility Labor Council cares about the communities in which they work and live. Learn more: http://www.utilitylaborcouncil.com/

The Rochester Building and Construction Trades Council is an association of 18 individual trades whose mission is to support the working men and woman of our local construction industry. 16,000 members strong, our impact on the community can be seen all around us. It is in the Rochester skyline that we built and in the over $100 million annually our members bring to the local economy. We provide the best skilled workers in the region to those that want their construction project built right the first time- on time and on budget. Learn more: http://www.rochesterlabornews.com/

The Brattle Group analyzes complex economic, finance, and regulatory questions for corporations, law firms, and governments around the world. We are distinguished by the clarity of our insights and the credibility of our experts, which include leading international academics and industry specialists. For more information, please visit www.brattle.com.