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Snap Poll: Majority backs subsidies for nuclear plants

New York is putting up billions in subsidies to ensure three upstate nuclear plants, including one in the Rochester region, stay open. The funding is part of the state’s strategy to lean on nuclear energy as it ramps up renewable sources such as wind, solar and hydroelectric.

The state Public Service Commission last August approved the financial support for the aging nuclear power plants. That decision was back in the news this week.

ginna-snap

R.E. Ginna Nuclear Power Plant (Source: NRC)

PSC representatives were in court Monday defending the decision to award the multibillion dollar, 12-year subsidy, the Albany Times-Union reports. Opponents say it is a corporate giveaway, but state officials contend it will cut down on greenhouse gases. Opponents also note the subsidies will flow to Exelon Corp., the large Chicago-based firm that owns the plants. Opponents peg the 12-year cost at $7.4 billion while the PSC says it is closer to $2.86 billion, which would work out to about $2 per month for residential users.

The plants involved are the R.E. Ginna Nuclear Power Plant in the Wayne County town of Ontario; and two plants in Oswego County, James A. Fitzpatrick Nuclear Power Plant and Nine Mile Point Nuclear Generating Station.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in announcing the effort, called for the continued operation of the nuclear plants, in part, to save the jobs at them. The subsidies are part of a “Clean Energy Standard” advanced by Cuomo. That effort aims for the state to get half of its electricity from renewable and clean energy sources such as wind and solar power by 2030.

This week’s poll asked readers their views on the nuclear plant subsidies and the state’s renewable energy push. A majority supports the state’s plan for the nuclear plants. In addition a plurality views the state’s effort to shift to renewable energy as very important, and a majority describes it as either very important or important.

More than 300 participated in this week’s poll, which was conducted June 20 and 21.

Do you support or oppose the state’s plan for subsidies for the nuclear power plants?

Support  56% Oppose 44%

How do you view the state’s effort to shift to renewable energy?

Very important    44%

Important 21%

Somewhat important     19%

Not important     16%

COMMENTS:

This is all about jobs. If we close Ginna, 800+ really well-paying jobs will be lost and this will hit Wayne County very hard. The plant is one of the largest employers in the county.

—John Cogan, CEO, Vantage Benefits Group Inc.    

No sector of the power supply system should be subsidized by government. The PSC should allow rates to be set through direct negotiation with the utility companies without subsidies. Taxpayers cannot afford to subsidize any utility. It’s simply another tax on consumers.

—Tom Zimmerman, Z2 Architecture, Canandaigua  

While I support nuclear energy, I am against the government (federal or state) getting involved from a subsidy perspective just as I oppose subsidies and tax credits for so called green technologies. All these are just wealth transfers, and the government has repeatedly shown it can’t pick winners (but it may be better at picking losers). Let the market work.

—Keith B. Robinson, Diamond Packaging

The subsidy will do more than save hundreds of existing jobs—although that by itself is a reason to support it. The impact of these plants closing on the local economy and tax base would be devastating to communities, schools, property owners, etc.

—Tom Gillett, NYSUT        

Nuclear energy has been a huge economic benefit to this area. It contributes ZERO to global warming, ample fuel is available in the U.S., and it works when the wind does not blow and the sun does not shine. The safety record of these plants is amazing given their long life. Let’s continue to include nuclear energy as a major component of future energy needs and energy independence. Costs can be reduced by more sensible, responsible regulation and less hysteria. Newer generation reactors are cheaper and safer, but implementation is inhibited by politics. Do we really want a wind turbine on every block? A solar array on every roof or backyard? And yes, the considerable subsidies for these renewable sources are coming from your tax dollars!

—Duane Piede

Stockholders get the profits. Therefore they should absorb the losses.

—David Rubin

I don’t back the governor’s costly plan to shift to renewable energy (especially since the state is already deeply in debt), but I would rather the money go to nuclear or hydroelectric power plants than to solar and wind.

—Karen Zilora, Creative Scanning Solutions Inc.

There needs to be balance in the shift. As more renewable comes on line, scale down the nuclear plants. This shift needs to be managed by engineers. Politicians, stay home, keep your fingers off.

—Bob Miglioratti

Renewable energy is very important. However, if we’re going to subsidize solar and wind energy, nuclear is the least expensive to do so. Get the environmentalists off our back.

—Hal Gaffin, Fairport

Efforts to shift to renewable energy are very important. Nonetheless, I do not favor keeping aging nuclear power plants functioning. The nuclear power plant near New York City is scheduled to be shut down; I think the ones upstate should be as well.

—Carolyn Phinney Rankin

(c) 2017 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-363-7269 or email [email protected].

One comment

  1. Years ago, NY public service commission painted us into a corner. We followed the California model of electric deregulation stating local utilities may not own their own generation. They must sell or close the power plants and buy back the power from the lowest bidder through the independent operator system, another state run buerarcracy. The aging coal facilities were closed and not replaced with anything. The big nukes were the plums picked by merchant companies like Excellon who own the lions share of nuke generation. Three plants in NY are a drop in the bucket to these folks. They are old, and at the end of their safe lifespan. I know very well as I used to work at one of them from time to time.
    Con Ed is the only utility in the state not owned by a foreign multinational company and gets much of its power from PP&Ls’ coal and natgas plants (Former RG&E employees I used to work with are with that outfit and we’re still thick as thieves).
    So that’s what we’re left with, and it’s not much. 100% renewable energy is a worthy pursuit, but with present technology it’s like belief that the tooth fairy is bringing great wealth’
    Our Governor is playing another economic shell game with us and may yet be “hoisted by his own petard”

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