OSWEGO — A resolution from the Oswego County Legislature approved Thursday urges the state to include nuclear energy in the proposed energy standard that could offer help to New York’s struggling upstate nuclear plants.
The resolution urges the state’s Public Service Commission to include nuclear energy as “Tier III” in its proposed Clean Energy Standard (CES) that, if approved, would count nuclear power as a renewable energy source and offer generators zero-carbon emission credits.
The resolution comes as Entergy’s James A. FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant, located in Scriba, is moving closer to its scheduled closure date in January of 2017. Entergy officials have cited economic losses — including an expected $60 million in 2016 alone — and low natural gas prices as their reasons for closing the FitzPatrick plant, which employs more than 600 workers in Oswego County.
According to the resolution, the state’s nuclear energy facilities provide nearly 25,000 jobs and contribute approximately $3.2 billion to the state annually, in addition to $144 million in net state tax revenues and more than $60 million in annual local property taxes.
The PSC is scheduled to finalize the plan sometime this month, and Legislature Majority Leader Shane Broadwell, R-Oswego, said the idea behind Thursday’s resolution was to “put it on the top of the pile” of the governor’s desk that the county supports nuclear energy.
“We had not yet had a unanimous show of support by the entire legislature, from 25 legislators from all of Oswego County,” Broadwell said. “We had unanimous support because it’s not a Republican issue, it’s not a Democrat issue — it’s economics.”
Minority Leader Dan Farfaglia, D-Fulton, agreed with Broadwell’s sentiment, and said the resolution clearly showed the county supports its nuclear facilities.
“We’ll support them as long as we can,” Farfaglia said of the nuclear plants.
Supporters of the CES have said the plan could offer hope to the FitzPatrick plant and the Exelon-owned Nine Mile Point Nuclear Generating Station, although Entergy has repeatedly said adoption of the CES would not affect their plans for closure.
The CES, proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, aims to have 50 percent of the state’s electricity generation needs met through renewable energy by 2030, which advocates for the industry say cannot be met without nuclear energy.
The resolution notes that nuclear power helps avoid the production of nearly 16 million tons of carbon dioxide annually in the state.
“They need to be added on for those energy credits to help make it so these energy companies in Oswego County can make money and stay here,” Legislature Chairman Kevin Gardner, R-New Haven, said.
Gardner said it was important for the legislature to show its support for the nuclear industry after local residents came to public hearings held by the PSC in Oswego regarding the standard and voiced their support for nuclear energy’s inclusion in the CES.
“It’s a great idea and we want to show support for it. We are a nuclear friendly community and I hope, I know, the state knows that,” he said.