OSWEGO – Today (July 25), a petition in support of the inclusion of nuclear in Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Clean Energy Standard spearheaded by the Upstate Energy Jobs coalition, a group representing hundreds of business, education and labor leaders, surpassed the 3,500 signature mark which underscores the tremendous support that exists for keeping these plants open.
Flanked by scores of nuclear energy supporters, Oswego Mayor William Barlow welcomed a large crowd to the Lake Ontario Conference Center for a press conference emphasizing the need for the immediate passage of the CES.
“We commend Gov. Cuomo and the NY Public Service Commission for including upstate nuclear in the proposed Clean Energy Standard,” he said. “Preserving upstate nuclear is a proven cost-effective solution for achieving New York’s clean energy goals.”
The nuclear tier in the CES will ensure that upstate nuclear energy plants are properly valued for their carbon-free energy, placing them on the same playing field with other low-carbon emitting sources.
This will also ensure that upstate nuclear plants are able to continue to contribute to New York’s clean energy goals, serving as a bridge to the state’s lower-carbon future.
The urgency to pass the CES has been amplified by recent news that Entergy is in talks to sell its FitzPatrick nuclear power plant to Exelon.
This sale is dependent on discussions and the passage of the CES, as it has the potential to save all three upstate nuclear plants.
The PSC is expected to vote on the new standards that better support nuclear at its August meeting.
Senator Patty Ritchie said you don’t have to look too far to see what the benefits of upstate nuclear are.
“Just the economic impact to the entire county is so tremendous,” she pointed out. “It’s not just Central New York that gets a positive impact from the facilities. This goes across New York State and helps strengthen the grid and helps to support thousands of jobs across New York.”
Making nuclear power a part of the CES is acknowledging how important nuclear power is, she added.
“In order for the state to reach its goal by 2030, it’s imperative that nuclear power be included.” she said. “Without nuclear power, we would go backwards.”
Assemblyman Will Barclay praised the Upstate Energy Jobs coalition for its efforts in securing all the signatures on the petition.
“It shows the tremendous support here in Oswego County and Central New York and truly throughout New York State,” he said.
Barclay said he agrees with Gov. Cuomo and thanks him for his leadership on this matter.
“The Public Service Commission should move quickly to adopt the newly proposed Clean Energy Standard. The jobs here and the continuation of clean, efficient and affordable energy are at stake. I applaud the Governor’s leadership on directing this proposal and recognizing the value of nuclear energy,” he said. “Nuclear is essential to our state’s energy portfolio and keeping it as a viable option is the only way we can ensure that our state’s future energy needs will be met. It is my sincere hope these standards are made the state’s new policy for the good of our New York State economy and the local community.”
Natural gas prices are low and putting stress on the nuclear plants, he said. But natural gas prices are bound to go back up again, he warned.
“If we’re caught with just all our energy generation from natural gas, we’re going to get pinched by prices,” he said. “So it’s a very wise move by New York State to continue its diversification of energy generation.”
Assemblyman Bob Oaks echoed his colleague’s sentiments.
“Clearly we’re at a key moment. Having those petitions signed showing support is critical today,” he said.
He thanked the Governor for “listening to workers at the plants, listening to residents of our region.”
If the CES, with nuclear, is approved, it give a viable, vibrant future to nuclear power, he said.
Kevin Gardner, chairman of the Oswego County Legislature said, if any of the nuclear plants were to close, “we’d severe and adverse consequences.”
Upstate New York nuclear plants provide immediate economic and environmental benefits, Gardner said.
According to a recent study by the Brattle Group, he continued, the plants contribute approximately $3.16 billion annually in state gross domestic product, account for nearly 25,000 jobs, pay $144 million in taxes and help avoid 16 million tons of carbon emissions each year, which are valued at $700 million.
Oswego and Wayne counties recently adopted a joint resolution urging the swift adoption of the CES, he said.
“We’re almost there. Let’s work together to keep these plants in operation,” he said.
Steve M. LeRoy, chairman of the Wayne County Board of Supervisors, commended Gov. Cuomo and the PSC “for doing the right thing.”
“It’s a deep concern for Wayne County. That is why we’ve banded together with Oswego County to pass the joint resolution,” he pointed out. “If our decision-makers do not act on this measure, their failure to do so will be felt not just within the walls of the families that depend on upstate nuclear for their livelihood, but exponentially felt in our area businesses and schools.”
“The good news is that we are close to a solution that can save these plants and the good jobs that they provide,” said Ted Skerpon, president and business manager of IBEW Local 97.
“We have to act now.”
If FitzPatrick closes, upstate stands to lose 615 jobs plus nearly 25,000 jobs in terms of direct and secondary employment, $500 million a year in regional economic activity and $74 million in annual payroll and much more, he explained.
Middle class families might slip down the economic ladder and community programs would suffer, he added.
“Once a nuclear plant closes, there is no bringing it back,” he said. “Which makes the importance of keeping these plants open now greater than ever.”
“Every day that the CES is not taken up is another day that the economic livelihood of upstate communities hang in the balance,” said L. Michael Treadwell, CEO of the County of Oswego Industrial Development Agency. “This petition provides tangible proof for our regulators that upstate nuclear plants have thousands of allies across the state that understand the important role Ginna, Nine Mile Point and FitzPatrick play in our state’s future. Without these nuclear plants, which contribute to about 60 percent of New York’s non-carbon emitting power, the state would fail to meet carbon standards and give up its stance as an environmental leader in the country. For all of these reasons, the CES, including the nuclear provision, should be implemented as soon as possible.”
According to the recent Brattle Group report, the three upstate nuclear plants help avoid 16 million tons of carbon emissions annually, which is the equivalent of keeping 3 million cars off the roads.
In addition to the plants environmental benefits, they also serve as economic drivers for the region, supporting 24, 000 direct and indirect jobs, pay nearly $145 million a year in state and local taxes and contribute $3.16 billion to the state gross domestic product as well as help New Yorker’s save $1.7 billion in electricity a year, as found by the same study.
“I commend Gov. Cuomo for his work to help the continued operation of upstate nuclear plants,” Treadwell said. “The Cuomo administration has consistently said that the stability of the upstate region is one of its top priorities and by ensuring upstate nuclear plants are a part of our clean energy future we are helping save one of the most fragile areas of the state. The relationship between upstate nuclear plants and our local communities runs deep as thousands of households depend on the facilities for their livelihood. The CES is cost-effective and presents a lifeline for the clean, safe and reliable nuclear energy the state has enjoyed for decades. I urge our policymakers to take notice of the level of support we have behind this measure for its swift implementation in the weeks ahead.”