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FitzPatrick's fate may be tied to Indian Point nuclear plant

When Entergy announced earlier this month that it will close the Fitzpatrick Nuclear Power Plant, they cited potential economic losses. Yet some New York officials are suggesting that wasn't the whole story.

"Placing our families and students in the cross hairs in the Indian Point debate is unacceptable," said Sean Bruno, the Mexico School District superintendent. He said Fitzpatrick is being used as leverage.

The plant is a single-unit site, meaning there is only one nuclear reactor. Those facilities can be more costly to operate than dual unit plants like Entergy's Indian Point Energy Center outside of New York City. Indian Point's application for a 20-year renewal is pending, which is why Bruno said Entergy's announcement that it will close Fitzpatrick goes hand in hand with the company's efforts to keep Indian Point open.

"How would Indian Point gain the favor or the support of Gov. Cuomo other than saving the 650 jobs that Entergy is about to destroy in Oswego County?"

Neither the governor's office nor Entergy have revealed what all was on the table when the two parties negotiated. But in October, Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters that the two issues would be handled separately. Still, he has made it very clear that he wants Fitzpatrick to stay open. Cuomo has made it even more clear he wants Indian Point to close, citing safety concerns about a potential nuclear disaster.

"You cannot evacuate New York City," Cuomo said. "What’s the plan? Jump in the river and swim to Jersey?"

State Sen. Joseph Griffo, who chairs the senate's energy committee, said he too got the impression from  discussions with Entergy that it is using Fitzpatrick as leverage.

"Entergy obviously has a profitable facility in Indian Point and would like to continue to see that continue to operate and the governor, on the other hand, would ultimately like to see that close," Griffo said. "So, I think that’s part of the conversations and negotiations."

Entergy has filed its decision to close FitzPatrick with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. But, Assemblyman Will Barclay said the clock for finding a way to save the plant doesn't run out until the fuel cycle does in about a year, which is when Entergy plans to shut down operations.

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.