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FitzPatrick nuclear plant sale faces critical deadline

Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Update: The Public Service Commission voted unanimously Thursday to approve the sale of the FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant to Exelon. 

The New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) is meeting today to approve the sale of the Fitzpatrick Nuclear Power Plant. It's one of two deadlines New York state must meet this week in order to ensure the nuclear plant does not close. 

When Entergy reached a deal with New York this summer to sell Fitzpatrick to Exelon so it could stay open, state officials made several promises. They agreed to pass and enact a nuclear power subsidy program so financially struggling plants like FitzPatrick could become economically viable once again. The state also promised to approve that sale by Nov. 18 and if they did not meet that deadline, New York would pay Entergy $35 million to reimburse the company for keeping FitzPatrick online rather than preparing it for closure.

New York state is also bumping up against a deadline Friday to finish negotiations with Exelon about the details of those subsidies. The company's communications manager Lacey Dean would not say what they are discussing with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the state agency that will oversee the subsidies. 

"At this time I can't give you a specific answer on that," Dean said. "But I can tell you we are optimistic that the NYSERDA contracts will be signed and we will meet that deadline on the 18 and we continue planning for the closure of the acquisition."

A source close to the negotiations said the talks include terms and conditions, including timing, quantity and pricing mechanisms, that govern NYSERDA’s purchase of the subsidies. 

The nuclear subsidy program was passed in August as part of the Clean Energy Standard, a campaign to invest in renewable and clean energy sources like solar, wind and nuclear power plants so the state can reduce harmful carbon dioxide emissions. 

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.