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Activists demand end to coal bailouts for Cayuga power plant

Jenna Flanagan
Protest in Albany against Cayuga power plant.

A small but passionate group of about 50 activists with the Sierra Club, gathered on the southern lawn of Albany’s Academy Park recently to deliver a 14,000 signature petition demanding Gov. Andrew Cuomo deny the bailout of the Cayuga Power Plant. 

The bailout would come via the New York Public Service Commission that currently subsidizes the plant to the tune of $4 million a month.

The Tompkins County installation has two units that burn coal, and one that uses natural gas or oil, depending on the market.

David Schlissel, lead author of a report by the Institute for Energy Economic and Financial Analysis, says the Cayuga Plant simply isn’t viable.

“The cost of generating power is much higher than the cost they can get for selling it. Market prices are very low and they’re expected to stay low for the coming year. Without the money from NYSEG (New York State Electric & Gas Corp) that they want, it’s not economic, it’s barely economic with the money they get.”

Credit Jenna Flanagan / WMHT

He says the Cayuga Plant is asking for $145 million from rate payers to do upgrades and receive 10 more years of subsidies.

The group is urging the state to take this opportunity to invest in renewable energy.

The New York Public Service Commission has yet to whether or not it will continue subsidizing the plant.

In 2012, the PSC rejected a request by the plant’s operators to shut down and asked for a plan to convert the plan entirely to natural gas.

Jenna first knew she was destined for a career in journalism after following the weekly reports of the Muppet News Flash as a child. In high school she wrote for her student newspaper and attended a journalism camp at SUNY New Paltz, her Hudson Valley hometown. Jenna then went on to study communications and journalism at Seton Hall University in South Orange, NJ where she earned her Bachelor of Arts.