New York Gov. Cuomo orders 50% renewables in bid to save 2 nuke plants
- New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) will direct state regulators to mandate utilities acquire more renewable resources in an effort to keep a pair of nuclear facilities operating in the state.
- If utilities are mandated to buy more renewable power, Cuomo hopes they will see more value in keeping the baseload nuclear generation operating, which is considered zero-carbon, but not a renewable resource itself. The governor has been fighting to save the James A. FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant from closure, and the mandate could also help extend the life of the Robert E. Ginna nuclear facility.
- In June, Cuomo released a plan that included more renewables and cuts to carbon emissions, but it lacks the authority of a mandate, something sources close to his administration say has frustrated the governor in his attempts to keep nuclear capacity operating and fight climate change.
In a bid to save nuclear generation in the state, the New York Times is reporting that Gov. Cuomo will back a mandate that utilities supply 50% renewable power within the next 15 years. That's largely the same target his administration released in June when it fleshed out the REV goals, but according to the Times, Cuomo wants state regulators to put their weight behind it.
The Times spoke with sources briefed on the matter, but who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
By mandating utilities use more power from renewables, Cuomo is hoping to save one nuclear facility and delay closure of another. Entergy Corp. recently announced it will shut down its 838 MW FitzPatrick nuclear facility in Scriba, New York, by late 2016 or early 2017 due to the cost of maintaining the plant. But Cuomo has said the state will fight that closure through "every legal and regulatory avenue."
The Times also reported that an emphasis on carbon-free energy sources could delay the closure of Ginna facility. That plant was slated to close in 2014, but the state agreed to subsidize operations until 2017.
But don't expect a renewables mandate to change the administration's position on the Indian Point facility. New York is continuing to push for the closure of that facility, also owned by Entergy, arguing that it is not possible to develop a plan to safely operate the aging facility so close to New York City. Brittle reactor vessels and fatigued metals make operating the facility too risky, Cuomo has said.
The 2015 New York State Energy Plan, released in June, laid out a non-binding roadmap to realizing the Reforming the Energy Vision, which is focused on modernizing the state's electric grid and incorporating more distributed and clean resources. The plan would cut New York greenhouse gas emissions 40% from 1990 levels by 2030 and 80% by 2050, along with calls to obtain 50% of electricity from renewable sources and cutting building energy consumption 23% below the 2012 level by 2030.
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