Backlash grows against New York's nuclear plan as greens, consumer groups join forces
- Dozens of environmental and consumer groups are challenging New York's planned Clean Energy Standard, saying there are cheaper ways of keeping the lights on while reducing the state's carbon footprint.
- The newly-formed coalition opposing the subsidies is not the first indication of trouble for the plan. Last month, five lawmakers and a generator opposed the plan for how it spread costs and over concerns the Zero Energy Credits utilities must purchase intrude on wholesale markets.
- Platts reports the newly-formed coalition boasts almost 100 members, including New York Public Interest Research Group.
Among nuclear groups and energy policymakers, New York's Clean Energy Standard is broadly seen as a least-bad option for keeping low-carbon nuclear generation on the grid. But in New York, support may be eroding, with a broad range of groups now banded together to oppose the plan.
"We hope to convince the governor that New Yorkers do not want to pay billions of dollars in additional utility bills," Blair Horner, legislative director for NY PIRG, told Platts.
The groups have put together an online petition opposing the nuclear credits, though there is little detail on the site, which is called Stop the Cuomo Tax.
Approved unanimously by the Public Service Commission in August, the plan will direct $965 million in additional revenue to the Fitzpatrick, Ginna and Nine Mile plants in the first two years, with adjustments every two years until 2029. The CES also directs utilities to get half their power from renewable sources by 2030.
As part of the plan to keep the three nukes online, Exelon agreed to purchase FitzPatrick if the state approved the subsidy. Opponents of the plan hope to convince regulators to scuttle that deal, and in turn that could cause the entire scheme to collapse.
Opponents of the plan say it will cost consumers $8 billion, while others argue the figure is closer to $2 billion. A representative from Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office called the coalition's arguments against the CES "an absurd stance that would repeal a national model to fight climate change and replace it with more expensive dirty fuel and fracked gas."
A Brattle study has found a more than $3 billion benefit to the state from the CES. The three plants are "keeping electricity prices low - absent Upstate nuclear plants, New York consumers would pay almost $15 billion more in electricity costs over the next ten years (nearly $1.7 billion annually)." The study was prepared for labor groups that support keeping the plants online.
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