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U.S. Energy Secretary pushes to 'make nuclear cool again' at FitzPatrick Nuclear Plant

Tom Magnarelli
U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry with Rep. John Katko in Oswego County.

U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) toured the FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant in Oswego County Wednesday as part of his push to “make nuclear cool again.”

It has been two years since the New York State Public Service Commission approved $8 billion in subsidies to keep the state’s nuclear plants open.

Perry said keeping nuclear power plants going is a matter of national security.

“America can’t afford to have the grid disrupted," Perry said. "The only two sources of energy that can guarantee you non-disruption are nuclear power, because of their 18 months or so of fuel that they can keep on the site, and coal. Every other source is interruptible. Having these nuclear plants go offline, having these coal plants go offline for political purposes may be some short-term political gain, but it has the potential to be, long-term, not in the best interest of this country.”

Perry met with workers at FitzPatrick and said he heard about the economic impact nuclear plants have on the area. More than 600 jobs at FitzPatrick were saved after the nuclear subsidies were announced. Perry gave rare praise to Gov. Andrew Cuomo for including the subsidies in the Clean Energy Standard, which has the goal of taking the state to 50 percent renewable energy by 2030.

“You cannot have a legitimate conversation about this globe and its environment without being a supporter of nuclear power,” Perry said.

But environmental groups say nuclear power is not clean or renewable and they are calling on Cuomo to reverse his policy on the subsidies. They say the bailouts of failing nuclear plants are sucking up money that could be put towards growing renewable energy like wind and solar. 

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.