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Exelon purchase of FitzPatrick will save its jobs, but how many?

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO News File Photo
FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant employees and members of the public rallied to save the plant's jobs in October 2015 when Entergy was pondering whether or not to close the facility because of economic losses.

Local IBEW 97 labor union president Ted Skerpon said the past year has been a roller coaster for the employees he represents at the FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant and the nearby Nine Mile Point Nuclear Facility. Both were on the brink of closure at one point because of economic losses.

But now that New York will subsidize the state's nuclear industry, Exelon says it will continue operating Nine Mile Point and take over at FitzPatrick. So the next step for the union regarding jobs, Skerpon said, is negotiations.

"We will sit down with Entergy and Exelon for the transition and basically determine what's needed," Skerpon said. "But everybody should be good. hopefully we can do this all through attrition, and obviously looking at the efficiencies now that you have three plants what's really needed."

The union contract with both facilities doesn't end until 2019.

"Right now we have a contract in place and both companies have said they would abide by that so we're looking forward to what the future holds," Skerpon said.

Some public officials have suggested that Exelon's ability to operate FitzPatrick may be contingent upon the shared services and jobs they can realize between the neighboring plants of Nine Mile and Ginna in the Rochester area. 

Representatives for Exelon and Entergy say there should not be any staffing level changes in the immediate term. In fact, there actually may be a need to add staff since the employee headcount at FitzPatrick has dropped by about 70 since Entergy announced its shutdown plans last November. They are currently trying to fill some of those positions.

For the future, Exelon spokesperson Jill Lyon said it's hard to determine what will ultimately be needed as they are currently focusing on attaining state and federal approval of the deal.

"Integrating FitzPatrick into the Exelon fleet will take time and until we have all of those approvals and close the transaction next year, we wouldn’t be getting anything until we have got the sale finalized," Lyon said.

Regardless of how many jobs survive, the written agreement between the two companies requires that Exelon offer employment to "substantially all" of FitzPatrick's current staff. 

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.