New York Assembly budget would halt nuclear plant bailout

By Anna Gronewold, Associated Press

New York's Public Service Commission says it has sufficiently communicated with stakeholders about an upcoming bailout for three failing nuclear power plants after another call from lawmakers for increased discussion about a program that could cost up to $7.6 billion.

 

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York's Public Service Commission says it has sufficiently communicated with stakeholders about an upcoming bailout for three failing nuclear power plants after another call from lawmakers for increased discussion about a program that could cost up to $7.6 billion.

The Assembly on Monday suggested in its one-house budget a moratorium on the bailout program until officials from the Public Service Commission testify before senators and Assembly members about how and why ratepayers would be funding the bailout with their electric bills.

"The Department has already submitted testimony to the legislature and had a robust public process that included 24 public hearings on this issue," Commission spokesman James Denn said in an email Tuesday. "We need to keep making progress towards the Clean Energy Standard."

Keeping the deteriorating plants open is backed by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo as a strategy for maintaining clean and reliable energy as the state transitions half of its power to renewable sources, such as wind, solar and hydroelectric, by 2030. Experts estimate electricity consumers will pay on average about $2 more per month to raise the money.

The commission came under fire at a recent hearing for not sending any representatives to answer lawmakers' questions about the subsidy program it approved in August. Energy groups said the costs and details of the proposal slid through approval with limited transparency or legislative oversight.

"It will raise every New Yorker's energy bill, their local taxes and the price of goods and services," New Yorkers for Fair Energy Coalition wrote in a statement. "The Assembly is right to demand more information from the state, and New Yorkers stand ready to support their effort."

The Assembly's nearly $154 billion spending proposal also calls for the state to fulfill the Foundation Aid formula to public school funding over a four-year time span, fund free tuition at state schools and extend financial aid to students in the country illegally.

The Senate has not released its full budget but has indicated a few similar priorities as the Assembly, including $45 million to increase wages of direct care workers and a version of its legislation to keep 16- and 17-year-old offenders out of the adult criminal justice system. The Senate also has promoted a nearly $8 billion plan to address clean water safety and infrastructure. The Senate is expected to unveil its full spending proposal this week. The two houses must negotiate a state budget before April 1.

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