Entergy (NYSE: ETR) said it would close the 838-MW James A. FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant in New York at the end of the fuel cycle in late 2016 or early 2017 due to “continued deteriorating economics of the plant.”
The utility said it reported its decision to the New York Independent System Operator and to the New York State Public Service Commission. Entergy and state officials worked over the past two months to reach an agreement to avoid a shutdown but were unsuccessful.
State Senator Patty Ritchie said she was one of many lawmakers who showed support for FitzPatrick.
“I joined with the region’s other representatives to show our support for the plant, the workers and the impacted communities,” Ritchie said. “Notwithstanding today’s announcement, I am urging the company and the state to continue discussions aimed at finding a way to reverse the decision.”
The decision to close the plant was based on several factors, including low current and long-term wholesale energy prices driven by low natural gas prices, flawed market design that does not adequately compensate nuclear power plants for their benefits, and the high operating costs of the single-unit power plant. The plant employs more than 600 workers and had been generating electricity since 1975.
“We recognize the consequences of the shutdown for our employees and the surrounding community and pledge to do our best to support both during this transition,” said Leo Denault, Entergy’s chairman and chief executive officer. “As a company, we are committed to ensuring the well-being of our employees, and appreciate their continued dedication to making safe, clean, secure and reliable operations a top priority.”
Entergy announced in October that it would be closing the 680-MW Pilgrim nuclear power plant in Massachusetts due to the same conditions as FitzPatrick. When FitzPatrick closes, Entergy will only have one operating nuclear plant in New York, the Indian Point plant, which has been facing much opposition from lawmakers and environmental groups.
Dominion (NYSE: D) shut down the Kewaunee nuclear power plant in Wisconsin in 2013 and Entergy closed the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant the following year due to the same conditions.
"“The fact that the FitzPatrick nuclear energy facility in New York is the industry’s fourth nuclear power plant to prematurely close due to uncorrected flaws in competitive electricity markets is alarming," said Marvin Fertel, president and CEO of the Nuclear Energy Institute. "It is clear that, despite providing reliable electricity and enormous environmental and economic benefits in upstate New York for more than 40 years, FitzPatrick’s benefits are grossly undervalued and are not fully compensated."
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