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Nine Mile Point asks state to decide on aid to nuclear plants soon

Constellation Energy Group

The owner of Nine Mile Point Nuclear Plant is again sounding a warning that without some financial help from New York state, it could have to close one of its reactors. This news on top of the announcement Fitzpatrick Nuclear Plant will be closing has Oswego county reeling.

After Entergy announced it plans to close Fitzpatrick, various proposals to  subsidize, buy or takeover the power plant have gone by the wayside. The nuclear power industry is struggling because the energy market is saturated by an influx of natural gas.

But one idea to help the nuclear industry in New York state seems to still have promise. The state's public service commission has suggested allowing some nuclear plants to be eligible for financial help through zero emission credits. Even if the PSC approves the plan, Fitzpatrick says the help will come too late for them, and it will begin closing in January 2017.

But now, Exelon, which owns the nearby Nine Mile dual reactors, says the PSC needs to decide soon, or it may have to close the Nine Mile 1 reactor. Nine Mile 1 has to be refueled in March 2017.

In a letter to the PSC, Exelon says it needs to know by September whether or not the financial help from the state will come through before it can decide to spend the $55 million it takes to refuel. And it says that its Ginna Plant in the Rochester area is similarly in jeopardy.

Oswego County leaders are encouraging the PSC to approve the zero emission credit plan For the sake of the jobs and families in the area Nine Mile 1 supports.

And several state lawmakers have called on the PSC to immediately implement the portion of the clean energy standard that applies to nuclear plants. The zero emission credits are part of the Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed clean energy standard. State Sen. Joe Griffo, who chairs the Senate's Energy and Telecommunications Committee, says if Exelon were to close the Nine Mile 1 reactor, and the Ginna plant, it would be devastating to the state's economy.

A PSC spokesman says it remains committed to concluding its decision about the zero emission credits this summer.