Exelon would save FitzPatrick nuclear plant if state OKs subsidies
SCRIBA, N.Y. – Exelon Corp., the owner of Nine Mile Point Nuclear Station, is in talks to buy and continue operating the adjacent FitzPatrick plant, which will shut down six months from now if the deal fails, according to a source with knowledge of the discussions.
An agreement could be announced as early as tomorrow, said the source, who asked to remain anonymous because neither Exelon nor FitzPatrick owner Entergy Corp. had authorized public statements.
Exelon’s acquisition of FitzPatrick would be contingent on state approval of new nuclear subsidies proposed Friday by staff of the New York Public Service Commission, the source said.
The potential last-minute rescue of FitzPatrick heightens the stakes for the PSC, which is conducting an expedited review of ratepayer-funded subsidies worth $480 million a year to keep the four Upstate nuclear reactors running.
The subsidies are proposed as part of the state’s clean energy standard. They are intended as temporary support for nuclear plants while the state develops more renewable sources like wind and solar, to avoid increased power generation from fossil fuel sources that emit greenhouse gases.
Both Exelon and Entergy have said their Upstate nuclear plants are losing money because of low wholesale power prices resulting from cheap natural gas.
Now the PSC faces a stark choice: Approve the subsidies and save all four Upstate reactors, or deny the subsidies and face the possible shutdown of three of the four.
Exelon notified the commission last month that it might close the Nine Mile 1 reactor in Oswego County and the Ginna reactor in Wayne County next year if the state does not guarantee subsidy payments by September.
Entergy announced last November that it would close FitzPatrick, which loses roughly $60 million a year.
The administration of Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been working actively to encourage a deal between Exelon and Entergy that would save the jobs at FitzPatrick, according to a state official who requested anonymity.
The proposed nuclear subsidy payments would extend for 12 years and could rise to as much as $805 million a year. Critics this week complained about the fast-track review that is under way. Public comments on the July 8 proposal are due July 18, or just six business days after the proposal was unveiled.