Clean Energy Standard Establishes Good Public Policy and Saves Thousands of Jobs

A Legislative Column by Assemblyman Will Barclay
The Public Service Commission’s newly adopted Clean Energy Standard is a smart solution to a complex problem and with its adoption, it institutes a good public policy that will provide economic and environmental benefits to all New Yorkers for years to come.

Not only is this helping our local FitzPatrick plant to remain open but it is helping all Upstate nuclear plants remain operational which will keep thousands of jobs in the state, and carbon free electric generation in New York.

Since the Public Service Commission adopted the new Clean Energy Standard, there have been many critics who say nuclear should not be eligible for subsidies.

The criticism from so-called environmentalists is baffling because nuclear power is clean and generates zero carbon emissions, 24/7.

Currently, according to the New York Independent System Operator’s most recent data, 4.53% of the state’s electricity needs are met with wind and solar sources, 17% are met with hydro, and 30% with nuclear generation.

Without  nuclear power, New York would lose an essential source of carbon-free generation.

It would likely be replaced by imported power generated from fossil fuels – something that the environmentalist groups vehemently oppose.

There are many reasons the PSC’s forward-thinking policy is good for the state.

Without the Clean Energy Standard, Upstate would lose thousands of jobs, businesses and homeowners would face steeper electricity prices, and our state would lose fuel diversity.

If the PSC had not included nuclear power in the Clean Energy Standard, it is likely that all four nuclear power plants in Upstate New York would close – never to reopen.

This would be economically disastrous for Upstate New York.

For our community, this policy is a win-win.

It not only ensures carbon free generated electricity but helps ensures the health of our Upstate economy.

The four nuclear power plants, the James A. FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant, Nine Mile Point I and II and R. E. Ginna Nuclear Power Plant, add $3.16 billion to the state’s gross domestic product.

They account for nearly 25,000 direct and indirect full time jobs and contribute $150 million in net state tax revenues annually.

According to the Brattle Group, the plants also reduce energy costs by $1.7 billion per year.

This is because nuclear power produces power consistently and reliably which helps stabilize the energy market.

Indeed, in New England states, consumers are experiencing increased energy costs due the closure of Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant.

With its closure, the New England market has less fuel diversity, leaving electricity prices closely tied to the cost of natural gas.  This was evident this summer as New England’s electricity prices jumped 38% (from June to July) mainly because the cost of natural gas increased by 43%.

With the impending closure of another nuclear power plant in the New England region, one can expect that costs will continue to go up for consumers in these states.

Last year our area was devastated when Entergy announced that it would shutter FitzPatrick.

Fortunately, many in the community rallied around the plant and a solution was found to what would have otherwise been a catastrophic outcome for the entire region.

Other plants would surely have followed the same fate had the PSC not adopted the Clean Energy Standard.

We should embrace this policy and applaud this forward-thinking solution.

If you have a suggestion, please call or write to my office.

My office can be reached by mail at 200 N. Second St., Fulton, NY 13069, by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling (315) 598-5185.

You can also friend me, Assemblyman Barclay, on Facebook.