OSWEGO, NY – The Public Service Commission held two in a month-long series of public hearings on Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Clean Energy Standard (CES) in Oswego on Tuesday. It was the 11th hearing so far. The next one will be in Syracuse.
Michelle Phillips, administrative law judge at the NYS Department of Public Service facilitated the hearing.
The CES mandates that 50 percent of all electricity consumed in New York by 2030 come from clean and renewable energy sources and would properly credit upstate nuclear plants for their carbon-free power.
The CES is set to be implemented by June and there are a number of actions set to be taken between now and then.
The Council Chamber at City Hall was filled to overflowing, with dozens more chairs set up in the hallways.
The focus was to gather public input regarding the CES. However, just about all of the more than three dozen speakers urged the PSC to keep the FitzPatrick power plant operational if the governor wants to achieve his energy goals.
Mark Currier of Mexico started off the comments.
The loss of Ginna Nuclear Generating Station, FitzPatrick and Nine Mile Point would not only devastate their local communities, he said, but also make meeting the governor’s goals impossible.
By properly crediting these plants for their carbon-free power, the CES would help make nuclear generators financially viable while the state increases its renewable sources of electric generation.
New York State will not meet its carbon reduction goals without nuclear power providing a bridge to a future reliance on renewable sources of electric generation, a number of the following speakers stressed.
New York’s upstate nuclear plants – Ginna Nuclear Generating Station (Wayne County), FitzPatrick and Nine Mile Point (Oswego County) – save New Yorkers $1.7 billion a year in electricity costs, provide 25,000 jobs, contribute about $3.16 billion to state GDP and are critical to meeting New York’s carbon reduction goals, the speakers told the PSC.
“Nuclear energy is also New York’s largest source of zero emissions electricity, 24 hours a day, seven days a week in all weather conditions,” Mike Bradshaw added.
Mike Kenific said, “Nuclear power has been a great neighbor and supporter of our community and has provided safe and carbon-free electricity in the past and will in the future.”
If you are a supporter of the clean energy standards, then you must be a supporter of Upstate nuclear power, he added.
“We ask that the Public Service Commission recognize that New York’s existing energy resources, infrastructure and workforce are an anchor in our state’s economy,” Pam Caraccioli said. “We further ask that you level the energy generation playing field and invest in our existing energy resources.”
Implementing the CES helps New York meet not only its clean energy goals, but the Governor – and many others’ – goals to help the upstate economy, the majority of the speakers said.
Letting these plants prematurely shutdown would come at a detriment to New Yorker’s wallets and clean air, as well as thousands of jobs and economic benefits, they added.
Patrick Dewine, executive director of the United Way, pointed out that nuclear energy’s connection to the area runs very deep.
“I am here today to shed some light on how their contribution to our area goes much deeper than you will ever see on the surface,” he said. “Exelon, for example, is one of our most supportive and generous groups of individuals who not only give back their hard-earned money to their community but also volunteer about 200 hours annually.”
Pat Carroll, who represents 2,000 building trades members and their families, explained that the economic value of the nuclear plants is more than just the employees’ paycheck. The plants also help support the area’s restaurants, hotels and many other businesses, he noted.
Dr. Dean Goewey, Oswego City School District Superintendent, pointed out just how important the nuclear plats are to the local school districts.
“The effects of the loss of revenue would be catastrophic,” he said.
The Mexico school superintendent and the MACS school board president pointed out 49 percent of their tax base comes from FitzPatrick. The loss of that funding would mean the loss of programs, staff and more in the district, they told the PSC.
County legislators Shane Broadwell and Terry Wilbur also expressed support for the nuclear industry.