NYS Public Service Commission Approves Nuclear Subsidies; Opponents Say It's Wasted Money

Aug 1, 2016

Dozens of protestors traveled to Albany Monday to protest the Public Service Commission’s decision to approve large subsidies for Upstate nuclear power plants. Nuclear Information and Resource Center Executive Director Tim Judson says nuclear power has gotten too expensive.

The FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant in Scriba would be saved under PSC standards that classify nuclear as "clean" energy.
Credit U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

  "The governor and the PSC have been asleep at the wheel for the last several years" Judson said. "The costs of nuclear power are going up dramatically as these plants get older.  New York has one of the oldest nuclear fleets of any state in the country.  Many of these plants are becoming increasing uneconomical.  We've been raising these concerns with the state for several years to plan for these plant closures to take place. The governor's basically not taken that advice."

The subsidies are part of Governor Cuomo’s “Clean Energy Standard” aimed at increasing the state’s renewable energy sources. Judson says while nuclear power does not produce greenhouse gases, it does create radioactive waste. He says the Governor’s safety concerns regarding the Indian Creek nuclear power plant near New York City aren’t consistent with his support for the Upstate reactors.

"The governor has rightly taken the position that that plant should close to prevent a nuclear disaster," Judson said.  "The fact that he's taking a different position  on the Upstate reactors is unfathomable.  The potential for an accident on the shores of Lake Ontario is really one we cannot afford for New York State."

Upstate Nuclear Plants currently employ around 15-hundred workers and provide roughly one fifth of New York’s energy. Judson says there are other, better options available to the State to accomplish its clean energy goals.

The Nine Mile Point Nuclear Power Plant.
Credit U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

"New York could save as much power as the nuclear plants now generate through energy efficiency, which would cost effectively nothing, but actually save consumers a lot of money," Judson said.  "If these subsidies proposed for the nuclear plants go forward, consumers are going to spend twice as much money subsidizing nuclear plants as similar programs for renewables that would actually generate more power."

Electric customers will pay surcharges to cover these new subsidies. Judson says the next step for the anti-nuclear protestors is to bring legal challenges against the state.