ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Utility regulators in New York state are poised to approve the sale of an upstate nuclear power plant as part of the state's effort to invest in nuclear power while expanding its use of renewable energy.
The Public Service Commission plans to vote Thursday on Entergy Corp.'s proposal to sell FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant in Oswego County to Exelon Corp for $110 million. Federal regulators also must approve the transfer.
FitzPatrick is one of three aging upstate nuclear plants that stand to receive a total of up to $7.6 billion in ratepayer subsidies over 12 years. Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration proposed the subsidies to ensure that the plants remain open while the state transitions from fossil fuels to renewable sources such as wind and solar.
Many environmental groups support the subsidies, though some clean energy advocates, free market groups and anti-nuclear organizations are urging the commission to block the plan.
"It isn't fair and it isn't good policy," said Jessica Azulay, program director for the Alliance for a Green Economy. Azulay said the subsidies amount to a bailout for an aging and potentially hazardous industry.
The commission has already approved the subsidies and approval of the sale of FitzPatrick is expected as well.
Cuomo has said the nuclear plants will play an important role in the state's efforts to generate half of its power from renewable sources by 2030.
"Without them, it would be impossible for New York to meet its nation-leading greenhouse emission and renewable energy standards," said Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi.
If the plants were to close, electric rates would "skyrocket," Azzopardi said, and the state would have to rely on power generated by fossil fuels.
Protecting the plants also is seen as important to the upstate economy. Exelon said in a statement that the investment in nuclear will support more than 25,000 jobs and $144 million in annual tax revenue.