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Entergy: FitzPatrick nuclear plant to close in late 2016 or early 2017

The James A. FitzPatrick nuclear power plant in Oswego County. The plant's owner, Entergy, announced Monday that it will close the plant in late 2016 or early 2017

Updated 12:45 p.m.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo released the following statement on Entergy's decision to close the FitzPatrick Nuclear Plant:

"The closing of the James A. FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant will devastate the lives of more than 600 employees and their families. Good corporate citizenship must appreciate that there are many factors that count as the 'bottom line.' The State of New York will pursue every legal and regulatory avenue in an attempt to stop Entergy's actions and its callous disregard for their skilled and loyal workforce."

Updated 11:55 a.m.

U.S. Reps. John Katko (R-Camillus) and Richard Hanna (R-Barneveld), who both represent a portion of Oswego County released the below joint statement:

“We were incredibly disappointed to learn that Entergy announced its intent to close the FitzPatrick Nuclear Plant. As our community moves forward, we will do everything that we can to support FitzPatrick employees, their families, local leaders and all of Oswego County. There is no question that the plant’s closure would be a huge loss to our region.

Over the course of the past month, Entergy has been in talks with State of New York about the future of FitzPatrick. We hope the company will detail these conversations and inform the community as to what efforts were made to prevent the closure of the plant.

We also urge the company and the State to continue their dialogue in the hopes of reversing the decision. Absent a solution, our hope is that the company and the State will do everything possible to mitigate the challenges faced by the community.”

Updated 11:31 a.m.

It is "very unlikely" that Entergy will reverse its decision to close the FitzPatrick Nuclear Plant according to Jerry Nappi, a spokesperson for Entergy. In an interview Monday morning, Nappi said the talks between Entergy and New York state officials were constructive, but were unable to produce a mutually beneficial outcome.

“We just had to make this decision when it became apparent that we could not reach an agreement with the state,” Nappi said. 

Nappi said the decision to close FitzPatrick was primarily driven by falling energy prices due to the rise of natural gas. The company estimated that if it continued operating, it would incur a $60 million loss in revenue in the next year. 

Entergy expects the decommissioning process will begin at the end of the current fuel cycle, at the end of 2016 or early 2017, at which point Nappi said the plant will begin reducing staff. He said following the final shut down, the company will lay off half of its 615 employees. Approximately 18 months after that point, FitzPatrick will again cut its staff by half. However, Nappi said that the company will reach out to some of its FitzPatrick personnel and offer employment opportunities at other plants or in its offices elsewhere. 

Entergy is informing the state Public Service Commission and the Independent System Operator of its decision. Nappi said an analysis will begin on whether FitzPatrick is necessary to meet grid reliability standards. 

“They have actually previously done studies that determined FitzPatrick is not critical to meeting grid reliability for this area,” Nappi said. “So, we expect that to be the case when they do another review.” 

Nappi would not reveal any information about its negotiations with the state nor what it needed to become economically viable. In the press release, Entergy said the region has excess power supply and low demand and it singled out the Marcellus shale formation. In addition, the company cited power plants in Cayuga County and Dunkirk, New York that received special operating deals from the state. 

“While beneficial for those plants, it undermine power prices for all other plants in the marketplace,” Nappi said. “We feel, if it’s going to be a competitive marketplace, it should be open and fair and balanced and we haven’t seen that to an extent.” 

Entergy continues to pursue a lawsuit it filed following the Dunkirk agreement. The company does own another nuclear power generating facility in Buchanan, New York – the Indian Point Energy Center. Nappi said Entergy is committed to continue operating that facility. Nappi said that plant is more economically viable because it’s a dual-unit site. FitzPatrick, along with two other Entergy-owned plants that are being decommissioned in Vermont and Massachusetts, are single-unit sites with about half the employee base. 

Although Nappi said it’s very unlikely that Entergy will reverse its decision on FitzPatrick, he said it’s absolute.  

“We never say never,” Nappi said.

Updated at 11:10 a.m.

State lawmakers who represent Oswego County, as well as environmental advocates, are reacting to the news that the James A. FitzPatrick nuclear plant will close at the end of 2016 or early 2017. Entergy, which owns the plant, made the announcement Monday morning that declining profits and high operational costs were the main reasons to close the facility.

Statement from state Sen. Patty Ritchie (R-Oswegatchie).

To say that the news concerning FitzPatrick is disappointing is a serious understatement. FitzPatrick is a major employer and the effect of Entergy’s decision will be felt by hundreds of hardworking employees and their families, as well as taxpayers, small businesses and communities across Oswego County and Central New York. That’s why I joined with the region’s other representatives to show our support for the plant, the workers and the impacted communities. Notwithstanding today’s announcement, I am urging the company and the state to continue discussions aimed at finding a way to reverse this decision. FitzPatrick is simply too important to New York’s energy security, as well as the financial security of so many families, to leave this decision unchallenged, and it is my hope that working together, we can find a way to continue the plant’s operation and protect these jobs and the future of these communities.

Statement from State Assemblyman Will Barclay (R-Pulaski):

I am deeply disappointed by the news that Entergy has decided not to refuel the FitzPatrick nuclear plant. As a community, we have done all we can to support the plant and its employees. Apparently our efforts were all for not. My first concern is for the plant employees and their families. This has been a difficult two months for the 615 employees. I am also concerned how this closure will impact the community. We urge the Governor and Entergy to please go back to the table to save these jobs. We must do more to secure what we have. I will continue to fight until the last moment for the employees and the continued operation of the plant.

Environmental advocates applauded today's announcement by Entergy, saying the plant could be converted to a clean energy facility

Stetament from Jessica Azulay, with the Alliance for a Green Economy:

Alliance for a Green Economy supports Entergy’s decision to close the ageing, dirty, and dangerous FitzPatrick reactor. The closure of FitzPatrick will bring New York one step closer to a safe, clean, and sustainable energy future and will remove a dangerous radiological threat from our region. Those of us who have lived in fear of a meltdown at FitzPatrick are looking forward to the day the reactor closes. While we celebrate this announcement, our thoughts are also with the workers at FitzPatrick and their families. We will continue to call for a just transition for Entergy’s workforce and for the municipalities in Oswego. We hope that local and state officials will take up the call for a safe and responsible decommissioning plan for FitzPatrick: one that keeps a large portion of the workforce employed and ensures that the radiological and toxic waste at the plant is cleaned up, secured, and isolated from humans and the environment. Entergy cannot be allowed to walk away from its mess. The $700 million Decommissioning Trust Fund must be carefully used for the benefit and safety of the local community. We also support the creation of a state fund to provide transitional property tax replacement, wage support, and other economic development for those negatively impacted by this closure.

Original post

Entergy, the owner of the James A. FitzPatrick nuclear power plant in Oswego County, announced Monday that it will close the plant in late 2016 or early 2017. 

Entergy cited low energy prices and high operational costs as major factors in closing the plant. Company officials said they had been working with state officials for the last few months on an agreement to keep the plant open, but those negotiations were unsuccessful.

“Given the financial challenges our merchant power plants face from sustained wholesale power price declines and other unfavorable market conditions, we have been assessing each asset,” said Leo Denault, Entergy’s chairman and chief executive officer in a news release. “As part of this review, we previously announced the closure of the Pilgrim Nuclear Generating Station in Massachusetts and have now decided that despite good operational performance, market  conditions require us to also close the FitzPatrick nuclear plant,” Denault said.

The plant employs 615 workers and has an annual payroll of $72 million. 

“We recognize the consequences of the shutdown for our employees and the surrounding  community and pledge to do our best to support both during this transition. As a company, we are committed to ensuring the well-being of our employees, and appreciate their continued dedication to making safe, clean, secure and reliable operations a top priority,” Denault said.

Entergy plans to tell the New York State Public Service Commission later today that it will close the plant.

Entergy announcement - FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant

Jason has served as WRVO's news director in some capacity since August 2017. As news director, Jason produces hourly newscasts, and helps direct local news coverage and special programming. Before that, Jason hosted Morning Edition on WRVO from 2009-2019. Jason came to WRVO in January of 2008 as a producer/reporter. Before that, he spent two years as an anchor/reporter at WSYR Radio in Syracuse.
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.