Inside Entergy’s threat: What would save FitzPatrick nuclear plant?
SCRIBA, N.Y. – What does Entergy Corp. want?
The company told investors Thursday that it might shutter the unprofitable FitzPatrick nuclear plant in Oswego County. But it did not say what factors will drive the decision.
The company is negotiating a new union contract. It’s suing for lower property taxes. It’s lobbying for more favorable wholesale market rules. And it is fighting to relicense a more profitable sister plant in Westchester County.
Which of those, if any, is the key to prolonging the life of FitzPatrick?
Local officials, who want to preserve 600 high-paying jobs and millions in property taxes, would love to know. Entergy officials aren’t saying, at least publicly.
”We will be conducting a thorough review of projected revenues and opportunities to reduce costs,” spokeswoman Tammy Holden wrote in an email. “As we complete that review, we will continue to work with federal and state officials on opportunities to improve the plant’s outlook.”
Local, state and federal officials are scrambling to persuade Entergy to proceed with the scheduled 2016 refueling outage — a costly, month-long operation that is required every two years or so to keep the 850-megawatt plant running. If company officials decide to call off the refueling, they would likely begin preparing to mothball the plant.
Assemblyman Will Barclay, R-Pulaski, said he learned from Entergy officials last week that they will decide by December whether to refuel FitzPatrick next year. He has scheduled a meeting Monday with Oswego County officials, state Sen. Patty Ritchie and others “just to see what we can do to be pro-active.”
But Barclay said he is not aware of a specific wish-list from Entergy.
“I haven’t gotten anything from Entergy that says, ‘If you guys do this, we’ll refuel,’ ” Barclay said. “They just say, ‘It’s just not a good market for us.’ I don’t know how you cure that.”
Entergy is a publicly traded corporation based in New Orleans, with $12 billion in revenues and 13,000 employees. The bulk of its profits ($940 million last year) come from six regulated utility companies in the South, but the company also operates six independent nuclear reactors, including FitzPatrick, that sell power in wholesale markets.