Energy Chair Griffo urges immediate implementation of nuclear tier of Clean Energy Standard

ALBANY – State Senator Joseph Griffo, chairman of the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee, on Wednesday emphasized the need for the immediate implementation of the portion of the Clean Energy Standard that relates to nuclear facilities.

Expeditiously establishing the nuclear tier of the Clean Energy Standard (CES) would ensure that New York’s fleet of nuclear facilities remains viable by recognizing their clean energy contributions, Senator Griffo said.

Over the past 10 to 15 years, New York State has excelled in the energy sector by reducing emissions from power plants, increasing our renewable power generation and improving our overall clean energy footprint, Senator Griffo explained. Therefore, New York is well-positioned to meet the goals of the proposed federal Clean Power Plan by continuing to improve upon that success.

During the past six months, industry and government stakeholders have provided their expertise in the discussions and analysis necessary to establish a Clean Energy Standard in New York, Senator Griffo said. This proposed standard would recognize nuclear generation for its energy contributions that include: no carbon generation, 24/7 operation, reliability, fuel diversity and full-time operating capacity factors that exceed 90 percent.

Senator Griffo (R-C-I, Rome) said: “There are many opinions about how best to go forward with the broader Clean Energy Standard and, in particular, how to do so in the most cost-effective way for consumers. We need to slow down and evaluate the full CES more carefully in order to reach our goals while protecting ratepayers. But it’s fair to say there is one thing everyone agrees on, and that’s the pressing need to make sure that our nuclear fleet does not retire prematurely due to current economic conditions in the energy sector.”

According to the Public Service Commission (PSC), such an outcome would have catastrophic effects on the environment, such as backtracking on greenhouse gases, loss of fuel diversity and base-load generation in the energy market. Shuttering these facilities would also severely impact the economy of New York State, particularly the hundreds of jobs supported by nuclear generators in Upstate New York, Griffo added.

Senator Griffo said, “The Clean Energy Standard has much potential to further diversify our energy portfolio. But, our upstate nuclear generators won’t be willing to invest millions of dollars into their operations unless they are confident the CES proposal will recognize their important contributions to clean energy, along with the hundreds of jobs and price stability they provide.”

Senator Griffo was joined by several legislators that host nuclear generators in their districts, such as Fitzpatrick, Ginna and Nine Mile, as well as stakeholders in the industry, in advocating for an expeditious implementation of the nuclear portion of CES, called “Tier 3.”

Senator Patty Ritchie (R-Heuvelton) said: “The state has set an ambitious goal of obtaining 50 percent of all power from renewable sources — and that’s a goal we can’t attain without tapping into nuclear energy. In my district, nuclear plants are more than just producers of clean power, they are places that support hundreds of jobs and have a tremendous impact on the local economy. The same goes for others in different parts of the state. Taking the first step and implementing the nuclear bridge to the state’s new Clean Energy Standard is critical to the future of our energy grid and to the strength of New York’s economy.”

Senator Rich Funke (R-C-I, Fairport) said: “I am a proud supporter of the Clean Energy Standard, which would require that New York obtain 50 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2030, but there’s only one way we get there while maintaining a sustainable, fully-powered grid – and that’s with emission-free, reliable nuclear energy as part of the equation. Nuclear power supports over 25,000 jobs in New York, including many at the Ginna Plant in my region, and nuclear plants would account for nearly 75 percent of all avoided carbon emissions under the Standard between now and 2023. For a stronger New York economy and grid, I join my colleagues in calling on the Governor and the PSC to act quickly to ensure that the nuclear portion of the Clean Energy Standard implemented expeditiously.”

Senator Thomas O’Mara (R-C-I, Big Flats), chairman of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee, said: “New York's nuclear plants are a critical source of clean energy, account for hundreds of good-paying jobs and have an enormously positive impact on the statewide economy.  It's critical that the Public Service Commission and all of New York State government work cooperatively with the industry and take the actions that are necessary to ensure the continued operation and viability of our plants.”

Heather C. Briccetti, president and CEO of The Business Council of New York State, Inc., said: “A recent study by The Brattle Group found that New York’s six nuclear power plants reduce carbon emissions by 26 million tons annually. That is a substantial amount and it means the loss of any of these nuclear facilities would derail hope that New York could meet its aspirational carbon reduction goals without a substantial cost to energy consumers. Today we join with members of the state Senate and labor leaders to call upon the Public Service Commission to finalize an inclusive nuclear bridge, due to its proven benefits. At the same time, we ask the PSC to reevaluate the other tiers of the Clean Energy Standard, which is yet not fully understood and is nowhere near ready for approval.”

IBEW Local 97 Business Manager Ted Skerpon said: “The nuclear credits as proposed in the Clean Energy Standard provide the greatest cost–benefit value when measuring a zero carbon electricity output price per Megawatt. The jobs preserved and economic impact of those facilities are simply enormous, not only to the communities where the facilities are located, but to the entire upstate economy. We sincerely appreciate support from Senate Energy Chair Griffo and have full confidence this PSC directive from Gov. Cuomo will get done in time to provide hope for a future at Fitzpatrick and the rest of the upstate nuclear facilities.”