Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Exelon To Purchase FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant

FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant
Exelon Generation, owner of the nation’s largest nuclear fleet, has agreed to assume ownership and management of operations of Entergy Corporation’s James A. FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant in Scriba, NY.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who asked the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) to adopt a Clean Energy Standard (CES) benefitting the state’s nuclear power plants, helped facilitate the transaction.

In recent months, Entergy and Exelon began discussing a path forward that would allow the plant to continue operating beyond January 2017. The CES, approved last week, will save thousands of high-paying jobs and spur hundreds of millions of dollars in short-term investments in energy infrastructure in upstate New York. Without the CES, upstate nuclear plants would have been at risk of closure.

Under the agreement totaling $110 million, Entergy would transfer FitzPatrick’s operating license to Exelon. The New York Power Authority has agreed to transfer the decommissioning trust fund and liability for FitzPatrick to Entergy, and if regulatory approvals are obtained and the transaction closes, Entergy would then transfer the fund and associated liability to Exelon. Transaction closure is dependent upon regulatory review and approval by state and federal agencies, including the US Department of Justice, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the New York State Public Service Commission.

The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2017. As Exelon has previously indicated, approval of the CES means the company will reinvest millions right back into the upstate economy, including approximately $400-500 million in operations, integration and refueling expenditures for the upstate plants in spring of 2017, all of which will have a positive impact across the state.

Exelon has committed to refueling FitzPatrick in January 2017 and does not anticipate any immediate change to staffing levels at the plant, which normally employs about 600 people. Acquiring FitzPatrick aligns with Exelon’s broader efforts to preserve the nation’s existing nuclear energy facilities and the economic, environmental and reliability benefits they provide. New York’s nuclear plants power millions of homes and businesses.

Replacing economically challenged nuclear units with carbon-based generation would significantly increase emissions in the state, making it far more difficult and expensive for customers and the state to meet their emissions reduction goals. The transaction also aligns with Entergy's strategy of reducing its merchant power market footprint.

The 838-megawatt James A. FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant generates carbon-free electricity for more than 800,000 homes and businesses. Exelon operates two other nuclear energy facilities in upstate New York: R.E. Ginna and Nine Mile Point, the latter of which is adjacent to FitzPatrick. Together, Exelon’s two upstate plants provide carbon-free electricity to more than 2.5 million homes and businesses while employing more than 1,500 full-time staff.  (Entergy Newsroom, 8/9/2016)

Monday, August 1, 2016


State of New York | Executive Chamber
Andrew M. Cuomo | Governor

First-ever State Mandate will More than Double Renewable Resources, Slash Carbon Emissions, Protect the Environment and Grow the Clean Energy Economy


Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the New York State Public Service Commission's approval of New York’s Clean Energy Standard, the most comprehensive and ambitious clean energy mandate in the state's history, to fight climate change, reduce harmful air pollution, and ensure a diverse and reliable energy supply. The Clean Energy Standard will require 50 percent of New York's electricity to come from renewable energy sources like wind and solar by 2030, with an aggressive phase in schedule over the next several years. In its initial phase, utilities and other energy suppliers will be required to procure and phase in new renewable power resources starting with 26.31 percent of the state's total electricity load in 2017 and grow to 30.54 percent of the statewide total in 2021. The Clean Energy Standard will cost less than $2 a month to the average residential customer’s bill.

The Clean Energy Standard will:

· Significantly reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions and prevent backsliding on progress made to date by maintaining the operations of carbon-free nuclear power plants as the state transitions to a 50 percent renewable requirement; and,
· Strengthen New York’s electric fuel diversity for the reliability benefits it brings. The Clean Energy Standard also places New York as a leader of the global effort to combat climate change and the resulting extreme weather events.

By 2030, the 50 percent renewable mandate will be a critical component in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent (from 1990 levels) and by 80 percent by 2050.
The Clean Energy Standard will be enforced by requiring utilities and other energy suppliers to obtain a targeted number of Renewable Energy Credits each year. These credits will be paid to renewable developers to help finance new renewable energy sources that will be added to the electric grid.
The Clean Energy Standard decision today also includes other directives to reach the 50 by 2030 mandate:

· The Public Service Commission will work with New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and stakeholders to develop the content and standards that could be used to create a New York-certified clean electric product. This product will be clearly labeled and identified as New York-based clean power giving consumers the ability to buy 100 percent clean power, should they want that option.
· The Public Service Commission will promote and support maximum expansion of energy efficiency wherever possible and evaluate the creation of renewable heating and cooling technologies such as geothermal heat pumps.
· The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority will develop a blueprint to advance offshore wind energy, a report already in progress by the Authority.
· Public Service Commission Staff will work with the NYISO and other stakeholders to ensure that necessary investments are made in storage, transmission and other technologies to secure a reliable electric system.
· The Public Service Commission will requires triennial reviews of the Clean Energy Standard by the Public Service Commission to ensure economic and clean energy goals are being achieved.
Click here to view statements from organizations which are applauding and endorsing New York State's adoption of the Clean Energy Standard.

Maintaining zero-emission nuclear power is a critical element to achieving New York’s ambitious climate goals. Starting in April 2017, the Clean Energy Standard requires all six New York investor-owned utilities and other energy suppliers to pay for the intrinsic value of carbon-free emissions from nuclear power plants by purchasing Zero-Emission Credits. The New York Power Authority and the Long Island Power Authority are also expected to adopt the same requirements. This will allow financially-struggling upstate nuclear power plants to remain in operation during New York’s transition to 50 percent renewables by 2030.

A growing number of climate scientists have warned that if these nuclear plants were to abruptly close, carbon emissions in New York will increase by more than 31 million metric tons during the next two years, resulting in public health and other societal costs of at least $1.4 billion.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Exelon Would Save FitzPatrick Nuclear Plant If State Okays Subsidies

Entergy aims to sell FitzPatrick nuclear plant by mid-August

Fitzpatrick plant.JPG
Entergy Corp. has confirmed that it is negotiating to sell the FitzPatrick nuclear plant in Oswego County to Exelon Corp. Entergy said it will close the plant in January, as previously announced, if the sale cannot be completed.

Entergy said in a news release that it aims to complete the negotiations with Exelon by mid-August. The transaction depends on approval by the New York Public Service Commission of a new nuclear subsidy program that was proposed Friday as part of the state's clean energy standard.

The proposed nuclear subsidy program, estimated at $482 million a year split between FitzPatrick and three other nuclear reactors in Upstate New York, still faces review by the commission. The PSC scheduled a brief 10-day period for public comments on the proposal, which would allow the commission to consider it at its Aug. 1 meeting.

Entergy announced in November 2015 that it would close FitzPatrick in January 2017 because the plant loses money. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, whose administration helped facilitate the negotiations, issued a statement today applauding the developments.

A sale to Exelon would require regulatory approval by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and others before it could be finalized.That process is likely to take nine months to a year, company officials said.  Entergy said it will begin preparations for both of the plant's possible futures -- a shutdown, or continued operation and sale. (Syracuse .com, 7/13/2016)

Monday, July 11, 2016

Subsidies for New York Nuclear Plants?

State utility regulators today released a proposal to subsidize Upstate nuclear plants with annual payments totaling an estimated $482 million a year. The public has a brief opportunity to comment -- until July 18 – an indication that the PSC is likely to rule on the proposal at its Aug. 1 meeting.

Note: Only Nine Mile Point and Ginna have one cooling tower each.
Exelon Corp., which owns three of the four Upstate nuclear reactors, recently told the commission that the oldest two facilities might close unless subsidies were approved by September.  The proposal unveiled recommends that the PSC sign 12-year agreements with nuclear operators, as Exelon had previously recommended. The subsidies would be set administratively by the PSC.

According to estimates provided in the proposal, the subsidies would start at $17.48 per megawatt-hour for the first two years and rise gradually to $29.15 per MWH in years 11 and 12. At the expected combined output of 27.6 million MWH for the Upstate nukes, the total cost would be up to $482 million a year during the first two years, rising to $805 million per year for the final two years.

Those estimates appear to anticipate the continued operation of the FitzPatrick plant, which is scheduled to close in January 2017. FitzPatrick typically accounts for more than 20 percent of the Upstate nuclear output. The subsidies are based on wholesale electric prices of about $39 per MWH. If future prices rise above that level, as the PSC staff expects, the subsidies will decrease commensurately.

The PSC staff argues that the cost, which would be borne by utility ratepayers, would be dwarfed by the benefits of preserving reliable sources of carbon-free electricity. The staff proposal estimates that continued operation of the nuclear plants provides benefits of at least $2.5 billion a year, including the societal benefit of preventing additional carbon emissions plus other positive impacts such as jobs and property tax payments provided by the nukes.

Nuclear operators have complained that wholesale electric prices are too low in Upstate New York to sustain the cost of operating nuclear plants. Entergy Corp. announced last fall that it would close the 850-megawatt FitzPatrick plant in Scriba in January 2017. Exelon told the PSC last month that the 620-megawatt Nine Mile 1 reactor in Scriba and the 580-MW Ginna nuclear plant in Wayne County might close next year too unless subsidies are approved soon. Nine Mile 1 is scheduled to be refueled next spring, a $55 million expense Exelon might forego if the plant is still losing money, company officials said.

According to a study by The Brattle Group, paid for by Exelon and Upstate Energy Jobs, the four nuclear power reactors in Upstate New York are responsible for $3 billion in economic activity and nearly 25,000 jobs.  (Syracuse. com, 7/8/2016)

Friday, June 3, 2016

New York State Climate and Community Protection Act

Note: AAEA believes that Entergy's Indian Point and Fitzpatrick (if it continues to operate) nuclear power plants should receive CO2 credits under any climate legislation.  Gina and Nine Mile Point should also receive such allowances in a CO2 trading program.

The New York State Assembly approved a climate change bill Wednesday.  The legislative session ends on June 16. Assemblyman Steve Englebright, a Democrat, introduced the bill on May 23. So far, a companion proposal has not been introduced in the state senate, with only eight working days left in the legislative session. Unlike the assembly, which is 70 percent Democratic, the state senate is more evenly split between parties.
The legislation requires the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from major sources to zero by 2050. That would demand a near total decarbonization of its economy, and it would put New York among the world's leaders on forceful climate action. To achieve it, the bill gives the state until 2030 to get at least 50 percent of its electricity from clean energy.
By next year New York would have to generate 27 percent from renewable sources. In February, New York got about 28 percent of its electricity from renewables, mainly from hydroelectric power, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
The legislation, called the New York State Climate and Community Protection Act, is also notable for its emphasis on environmental and economic justice, according to the bill's advocates. It aims to "prioritize the safety and health of disadvantaged communities" and "it creates good jobs and protects workers and communities," a memo by lawmakers said.
The bill does not specify how the carbon targets are to be met, deferring decisions on such possibilities as a new cap-and-trade or carbon tax mechanism.  It does say, however, that 40 percent of the funds generated from any new market scheme established to meet the targets must be used for research and development of energy programs in disadvantaged communities. It earmarks money from the state's Environmental Protection Fund toward building clean energy projects and improving energy efficiency in low-income housing areas, including solar installations, wind turbines and heat pumps.
The bill also mandates that the state's energy transition create new jobs for the people likely to lose their jobs as New York shifts away from fossil fuels. 
The new bill expands on the state's existing greenhouse emissions reduction goal to cut emissions by 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050. California, long the nation's climate action leader, has that same goal, which is also in line with targets promised by the world's nations in the Paris climate agreement.
The proposed legislation also solidifies the renewable energy goal of getting half the state's electricity from renewable sources proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo earlier this year, an energy goal shared by California.
The new proposal tasks the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) with creating greenhouse gas emission limits for specific industries, rules for meeting these reduction goals, such as a carbon tax, and then tracking those reductions over time. To provide input on these regulations, a new group will form called the New York State Climate Action Council involving members across the state government, from the governor's office to state legislators to regulators. New York already is part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a multistate emissions trading system to reduce carbon dioxide pollution from power plants.
Before drafting emissions reduction rules, the DEC will have to conduct a study identifying the barriers that disadvantaged communities face in accessing and owning clean energy sources, as well as other climate-related programs. Two new groups will form—the disadvantaged communities working group and the environmental justice advisory group—to help consult on this study, and the resulting policies and regulations that come out of it.  (Inside Climate News, 6/1/2016)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

AAEA Letter To Mayor de Blasio in Support of EJ Act

Letter of Support

Mayor Bill de Blasio
City Hall
New York, NY  10007

Re: Environmental Justice Act [Int. No. 886]

The African American Environmentalist Association supports Council Member Inez Barron’s Environmental Justice Act [Intro 886]. The legislation has numerous cosponsors and I sincerely hope that it will be passed by the council and that you will sign it into law.  We encourage you to let the New York City Council know that you support the legislation and intend to sign it upon its passage by the Council.

Your OneNYC was recently the recipient of harsh criticism from environmental justice activists who said that it does not reflect equity.  The criticism can be silenced if you support this legislation, which assures that the executive agencies and environmental justice activists will work together to bring about a just future.

The legislation is vitally important in protecting communities throughout New York City.  At present, there is no national or state law that protects these communities.  Int. No. 886 is a local law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to identifying and addressing environmental justice issues. Int. No. 886 sets up an interagency task force to develop agency-wide plans to assure that environmental justice in incorporated into the planning and implementation of agency duties. The legislation also creates an associated environmental justice advisory board, reflecting geographic balance, comprised of pertinent committee chairs or their designees, appointments from environmental justice community boards health or environmental committees, at least seven appointees who are directors, members or employees of environmental justice organizations and at least two appointees who are directors, members or employees of organizations engaged in research related to human health.

I drafted the Environmental Justice Bill for Councilman Charles Barron in 2003 and Councilmember Charles Barron introduced the bill (Int. No. 404) in 2004 with seven cosponsors.  After meeting with Councilwoman Inez Barron in 2014 to request re-introduction of the legislation and after much review and revisions by the Committee on Environmental Protection, Councilwoman Barron introduced the legislation that we are considering today. 

We encourage you to let the New York City Council know that you support Int. No. 886 in order to help accelerate passage of this legislation.

Sincerely yours,

Norris McDonald


Monday, April 25, 2016

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

AAEA Submits Comments To Nuclear Regulatory Commission


According to 2010 Census data, 53 percent of the U.S. population residing within a 50-miles radius of IP2 and IP3 (approximately 17,231,000 individuals) identified themselves as minority.  With such a large minority population within this 50-mile radius of Indian Point 2 and Indian Point 3, environmental justice merits more scrutiny.  AAEA has provided such information for more than a decade.  The short version is that the major benefits of the plant should be included in the impact analysis.

We do not understand the NRC’s seeming reluctance to include these benefits in its environmental assessments.  IP2 and IP3 prevent significant numbers of hospitalizations and deaths from asthma and other respiratory and pulmonary problems.  Such benefits speak directly to the importance or renewing the operating license for the facility.


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

AAEA-NY Debunks Indian Point Tritium Leak Exaggerations

AAEA-NY expressed its outrage at news outlets and politicians who misused information provided by Entergy in being transparent about its operations.

See the Journal News Op Ed and the Watertown Daily Times.


Journal News Op Ed

View: Indian Point protects air quality
Norris McDonald7:02 a.m. EST February 18, 2016

Cuomo's upstate-downstate disconnect on nuclear power threatens local environment, economy

New York has long led the country in recognizing the importance of giving people the opportunity to breathe clean air through the Clean Air Act and in combating climate change through the enactment of carbon dioxide reduction programs.
Under Gov. Andrew Cuomo's energy plan, we will only be the leader in irony. On the one hand, the administration says we need to save upstate nuclear plants because closing them would result in the release of 12 million additional metric tons of carbon dioxide into our environment, which he called a “truly unacceptable outcome.” On the other hand, the governor is determined to close the Indian Point Energy Center, which would increase the carbon dioxide emissions by 8.5 million metric tons on an annual basis — or the equivalent of adding 1.6 million cars on the road. That’s nothing less than a giant step backwards.
When it comes to public safety, transparency is great, but fear-mongering is harmful. Case in point: recently, Indian Point Energy Center did the responsible thing and voluntarily reported finding a small amount of tritium in groundwater at the plant. The recorded levels were 1/1000th — that is 1,000 times less — than what the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission requires to be reported. Simply put, the water poses no threat to the public. This water is also not used for drinking water.
Rather than commending Indian Point for its focus on safety and voluntary transparency, some politicians and media outlets decided to create hysteria, based on misinformation and falsehoods. Such manufactured hysteria creates unnecessary anxiety. It also impedes us from recognizing and dealing with actual threats to public health and safety — like the pollution that would be pumped into our air from fossil fuel plants if Indian Point were to close.
But it’s more than that, because we face an issue of environmental justice — the fair treatment of all people regarding environmental issues, irrespective of their race or income.
Asthma threat
New York’s African-American and Latino communities suffer disproportionately from asthma. As one of the millions of African-Americans with asthma, I’ve worked for decades to promote clean air in our neighborhoods. If we lose Indian Point, we’ll suffer from a marked increase in the pollutants that exacerbate asthma.
Decades of progress in bringing attention and action to cleaner air for all our citizens — progress that’s been assured thanks to Indian Point’s consistently safe, reliable, carbon-free electricity, will be lost if the state succeeds in shuttering this crucial plant. Moving us backwards while trampling over the concerns of those most at risk is no way to lead the fight against climate change.
Indian Point provides 25 percent of the electricity for New York City and Westchester County and does this with zero carbon dioxide emissions. This is more than 2,000 megawatts of virtually no carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and particulates. Losing Indian Point would degrade our air quality; weaken our already stressed electrical system; and increase the greenhouse gas emissions that lead to climate change.

Simply put, Indian Point’s continued operation means a safer and cleaner New York.
The writer is president of the African American Environmentalist Association.