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NY Ratepayers to Give Nukes Huge Subsidies

The FitzPatrick nuclear power reactor is the same design as the Fukushima reactors. (USNRC)
The FitzPatrick nuclear power reactor is the same design as the Fukushima reactors. (USNRC)
August 11, 2016

NEW YORK – Exelon has agreed to buy the failing FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant in upstate New York, but consumers are getting stuck with a huge bill.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the sale on Tuesday. The money losing facility sold for just $110 million.

But to close the deal, and to keep two other upstate reactor sites running, the Public Service Commission last week agreed to subsidize the plants by tacking a surcharge onto consumers' electric bills.

And according to Kevin Kamps with the group Beyond Nuclear, to sweeten the pot, the state threw in FitzPatrick's publicly controlled decommissioning fund.

"Now, Exelon has complete control of that money,” Kamps points out. “So, that takes the total figure of this public giveaway to Exelon Corporation to $8.3 billion."

The subsidies are spread out over the next 13 years. The governor says without the nuclear plants, the state won't be able to meet its carbon reduction goals and would lose hundreds of good-paying jobs.

But all these reactors are on the shores of Lake Ontario, the drinking-water source for 9 million people in the U.S. and Canada.

And as Kamps points out, the four reactors at the three sites are either the same design, or very similar, to those that melted down at Fukushima in Japan.

"You've got geriatric reactors as old as the Fukushima plants,” he stresses. “So, we've all seen what they're capable of, which is catastrophic radioactivity releases if something goes wrong."

Kamps adds that cleanup of decommissioned reactor sites is rarely thorough, and there's still no permanent solution for the storage of thousands of tons of highly radioactive nuclear waste.

Kamps disagrees with the governor's characterization of nuclear power as "clean energy." And he fears the subsidy deal in New York sets a dangerous precedent.

"Other states may follow suit,” he states. “The next big battle against these bailouts will be in Illinois, where Exelon has not gotten away with this in its home state for the past three or four years."

Exelon threatened to close two Illinois nuclear plants when proposed subsidies were voted down by that state's legislature.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NY