On behalf of Assemblyman Barclay, thank you for the opportunity to speak at today’s hearing and for scheduling a public hearing on the Clean Energy Standard in Oswego County.
As you know, Oswego County is home to three of the state’s six nuclear power plants – James A. FitzPatrick and Nine Mile Point I and II. Nuclear generation is engrained in our history and a big part of who we are in Oswego County.
As a community we strongly support our nuclear plants and their employees.
As you know, our community has been dealt with a big blow ever since Entergy announced in November that it will close FitzPatrick.
Since then our local efforts have been focused on what we can do to keep FitzPatrick and other nuclear facilities operating in New York State. We are a community built on nuclear power and we appreciate the Public Service Commission for coming into our community to see and hear firsthand the concerns of our residents.
Nuclear power is an essential part in keeping New York State’s energy portfolio diverse and we should as a matter of policy provide the same type of incentives to nuclear as we do for large scale renewables.
Approximately 30% of New York’s electricity comes from nuclear generating facilities. Out of this amount, nearly 18% of the power generated comes from Upstate nuclear power plants – Ginna, Nine Mile Point I & II and FitzPatrick.
A recent report done by the Brattle Group found that electricity generated by nuclear plants help avoid over 26 million tons of carbon emissions each year.
It is saves consumers $1.7 billion annually on their electric bills.
When you compare the electricity generated by nuclear power plants with other carbon-free energy sources, nuclear outperforms in this category producing 60% of the state’s carbon-free electricity. Further, from a cost standpoint, nuclear makes sense for the consumer and is the most cost effective way to achieve greenhouse reduction goals.
Assemblyman Barclay was very pleased when Governor Cuomo directed the commission to establish a Clean Energy Standard, one that would include measures directly for nuclear facilities.
Under the Clean Energy Standard the state has an opportunity to implement long-overdue incentives for nuclear that will finally recognize nuclear generated power for its capacity, reliability and zero greenhouse gas emissions.
These incentives are aptly an investment into our future – economically and environmentally. As a result, he supports the Commission’s proposal under the Clean Energy Standard to provide Zero Emission Credits to eligible nuclear plants.
As mentioned earlier, the timing of this proceeding is of the utmost importance for our nuclear generating facilities. Simply put, the implementation of ZECs can mean the difference between FitzPatrick, Ginna and other struggling nuclear facilities to remain open.
For the FitzPatrick plant and their 615 employees, ZECs could be the economic incentive that is needed to find an alternative owner/operator of the plant and safeguard those highly skilled jobs.
For our other struggling units, the implementation of ZECs is the bridge that is necessary to keep these plants operating.
We should learn from the mistakes of our neighbors in Vermont who actively pursued the closure of Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant.
Since the closure of the plant, Vermont has lost 5.3 million megawatts of carbon-free electricity and since replaced it with power that has generated 3.1 million metric tons of CO2 – equaling the emissions of 650,000 cars on the road.
According to recent articles in the Boston Globe and Forbes, the closure of Vermont Yankee is having a negative impact on New England States.
For the first time in five years, New England’s carbon emissions increased 5%.
At the same time, their electricity costs are rising along with consumer demand. Further, the loss of Vermont Yankee has stressed their region’s electric reliability to the point that the region is looking to purchase power from other states and from Canada.
This is a prime example of the path New York shouldn’t follow.
ZECs is an investment. It is an investment in our state, our communities and in local jobs. Upstate Nuclear Power Plants alone support 25,000 jobs. As you will hear from testimony throughout the day, it cannot be overstated how concerned the community is concerned about the closure of FitzPatrick, the future of the rest of our nuclear fleet and what it means for our community.
If it closes it will be economically devastating for Oswego County and the region.
It will remove $74 million in annual payroll from the community and will have a negative economic impact of approximately $500 million per year.
ZECs could very well be the deciding factor on whether this plant and others stay operational.
We applaud the effort and the work the commission has made on recognizing nuclear under the proceeding.
Given the challenges ahead of us, the commission has done a great deal of work on this issue in a short period of time. It is Assemblyman Barclay’s hope and the hope of this community that the proceeding continues to move forward and is implemented so that we can protect these vital assets.