Public Citizen has filed a complaint urging the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to reject Exelon’s bid to buy Entergy’s FitzPatrick nuclear plant in New York.
The national consumer advocacy group argues that the power companies filed an incomplete application because they omitted references to New York State’s $8 billion nuclear subsidy in their filing.
Public Citizen argues Exelon is interested only in the financial value of the subsidy, which the group says does not conform to FERC rules, and says that the power companies should resubmit their market power analysis to account for the value of the subsidy.
Entergy was considering closing the 838 MW FitzPatrick nuclear plant in Oswego before New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed a Zero Emission Credit (ZEC) subsidy that would allocate about $8 billion over 12 years to three of the state's nuclear power stations. The Public Service Commission unanimously approved the proposal in August.
As welcome as the subsidy may be for Entergy and Exelon, it may prove a problem, if Public Citizen’s complaint gets traction in Washington.
The watchdog group says the value of the subsidy was not accounted for in the merger application the companies filed, and it is urging FERC to require them to redo their market power analysis for fresh scrutiny.
Public Citizen argues that the ZEC is a vehicle for economic development and not, as the policy purports, an effort to address climate change. As such, the group says it does not conform to FERC’s rules and regulations. Once the subsidy is accounted for, Public Citizen argues the proposed merger would not likely be in the public interest.
If the deal does go through, it would add to Exelon’s New York nuclear portfolio, giving it three nuclear plants in the state. Exelon already owns the 576 MW Ginna plant and the 1,907 MW Nine Mile Point station.
“Giving billions of dollars to a single company operating three aging nuclear power plants that are no longer economically feasible is the wrong direction for New York,” Tyson Slocum, director of Public Citizen’s energy program, said in a statement.
Exelon officials issued a statement dismissing the group's complaint, saying it "raises issues completely irrelevant" to the merger.
Public Citizen filed comments in July with the PSC opposing the proposed subsidy, and it is not alone. A group of over 100 environmental and consumer groups have formed a coalition to oppose the plan, launching an online petition earlier this month and filing critical comments.
New York energy czar Richard Kauffman sharply critiqued the anti-subsidy coalition, Politico notes, calling the campaign a "cheap stunt" that offers no workable alternatives in a letter to the head of the New York Public Interest Group, one of the opposing groups.
Documents and public comments on New York's Clean Energy Standard and its nuclear subsidies are availabe under Case Number 15-E-0302.