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Aging New York Nuclear Plants Do Not Deserve Ratepayer-Funded Handouts

Aug. 1, 2016

Aging New York Nuclear Plants Do Not Deserve Ratepayer-Funded Handouts

Statement of Tyson Slocum, Director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program

Note: On July 22, Public Citizen filed to become a legal intervenor in a New York state Public Service Commission (PSC) proceeding and filed comments (PDF) opposing the commission’s proposal to provide billions in new, ratepayer-funded subsidies to two corporations that operate an aging fleet of nuclear power plants in the state. Today, the PSC ruled against Public Citizen’s motion.

As we stated in our July 22 filing, the zero emission credit (ZEC) is an inappropriate, expensive and unnecessary giveaway to the corporations that own the state’s old nuclear power plants. PSC staff proposed this new ZEC as a subsidy to support some of the state’s old, uneconomic nuclear power plants.

Under the state’s deregulation experiment, the out-of-state owners of these power plants earned windfall profits for years when the market was conducive for it. Now that the market has soured for these inefficient facilities, it should be shareholders – not ratepayers – who chip in for clean, affordable and reliable energy.

These aging nuclear power plants are simply not worthy of this generous subsidy, as cleaner and cheaper alternatives exist. In addition, if New York regulators truly feel that the retirement of these nuclear power plants presents a reliability concern, then they should petition the U.S. Department of Energy for Section 202(c) Federal Power Act Emergency Authority, much as was successfully done in 2003 involving the Cross-Sound Cable delivering emergency power supplies to Long Island.

Public Citizen is considering all of our options to oppose this ill-advised PSC decision, including appeals to the court or a complaint before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.