FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 22, 2016
Contact: Jessica Azulay
(315) 480-1515, firstname.lastname@example.org
Albany, NY – Opposition and questions are growing over New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposed $7.6 billion nuclear bailout as a brief 14-day comment period closes and the New York Public Service Commission readies for a vote as early as August 1.
Today, over 100 organizations and elected officials are sending a joint letter to Governor Cuomo, Energy Czar Richard Kauffman, and Public Service Chair Audrey Zibelman, raising concerns over the proposed nuclear subsidies and asking a series of 8 questions. The questions concern the cost of the subsidies for various kinds of consumers, whether the Public Service Commission has considered alternatives to subsidizing nuclear reactors, and more. In delivering the letter, they are adding their voices to the more than one thousand individuals that have submitted comments opposing the proposed nuclear subsidies and several other elected officials that have raised pointed questions and concerns about the policy.
Representatives of the groups will hand-deliver the letter after holding a press conference at noon on the Third Floor of the Capitol Building in Albany outside the Senate Chambers.
The letter can be found here: www.allianceforagreeneconomy.org/sites/default/files/letter_orgs_electeds_July_22_final.pdf
In a letter to the Public Service Commission, Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee, Chair of the Chair of the New York State Assembly Committee on Oversight, Analysis and Investigation, said: “The Public Service Commission’s new proposal to impose a nearly $8 billion nuclear tax on average ratepayers is unacceptable, largely out of public view, and is being pushed with undue haste. This enormous nuclear tax on all New Yorkers will have to be paid for by the working people of New York State, our businesses, and our local governments and school districts. The $7.6 billion price tag for this nuclear bailout was revealed only on July 8, the Legislature was never notified, and the public has been given less than two weeks to comment. I am gravely concerned about this development in a case that was represented to be about supporting large-scale renewable energy, but in fact is now about a bill to subsidize the nuclear industry, an industry that is neither presently, nor has ever been, independently financially sustainable but rather relies on taxpayers’ subsidies.”
Assemblyman Thomas J. Abinanti said, “New Yorkers shouldn’t be forced to prop up a failed business entity that produces expensive energy with old technology.”
Richard Weiskopf, MD, member of Physicians for Social Responsibility, said: “Not nearly enough time has been allotted for public debate and comment on this important issue. The health effects of radiation from nuclear plants have not been examined by the Department of Public Service; the recommendation to subsidize is based only on economic and financial considerations. Were there to be a serious nuclear plant accident, the cost could be astronomical and the health effects disastrous.”
Linda DeStefano, member of the Sierra Club, said: “Governor Cuomo has the good sense to realize that the Indian Point nuclear plants should be shut down and we applaud him for that, but he doesn’t extend this protective attitude to the people and environment upstate. Rather than continue his campaign to force ratepayers to subsidize these facilities, he should support a program for workers and affected communities to transition to truly clean energy jobs and tax revenues.”
Manna Jo Greene, Environmental Director for Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, said: “New York Public Service Commission should take a lesson from California, which is phasing out Diablo Canyon, its last nuclear plant, with a plan to replace 100% of its energy with renewables, while protecting workers’ jobs and providing retraining where needed, without any subsidy! Forcing New Yorkers pay an estimated $7.6 billion to bail out aging and unprofitable nuclear reactors is in direct contradiction to many of the goals of the PSC’s proceedings to Reform the Energy Vision (REV) for New York by shifting to distributed energy resources, ensuring affordability, and allowing the marketplace to work. This may be one of the largest corporate bailouts this state has ever faced, forcing ratepayers to subsidize nuclear power, when renewable energy is abundantly available and urgently needed. That’s where our dollars should be invested.”
The proposed nuclear subsidies are part of a “Clean Energy Standard” policy under consideration by the New York State Public Service Commission. The policy would increase the state’s mix of renewable energy and provide massive subsidies to New York’s economically struggling nuclear industry.
Public support for renewable energy is strong and the renewable energy mandates included in the Clean Energy Standard policy have enjoyed widespread praise. The same cannot be said for the nuclear subsidies included in the proposed policy. The nuclear industry has pushed hard for months to convince the Governor and the Public Service Commission that economically struggling nuclear reactors should be saved with public dollars. But opposition to nuclear power is strong in New York, just as it is across the U.S. For months, New Yorkers have been submitting comments opposing the nuclear subsidies and spoken up at public hearings across the state. The letter submitted today follows on the heels of an earlier letter to the Governor in which over 100 organizations and small businesses challenged the justifications for the nuclear subsidies and offered alternatives to address concerns over job losses and greenhouse gas emissions.
On July 8, the Public Service Commission issued a last minute rewrite of the proposed design for the nuclear subsidies and raised the projected costs exponentially. They gave the public only 10 days (6 business days) to comment, a period that was extended a mere 4 days after almost 50 organizations and intervenors in the case raised objections to the short time-frame.
Since then, opposition has been growing and dozens of elected officials have raised concerns about the costs for their constituents, local businesses and municipalities. Government watchdog organizations have raised red flags over the rapid push to implement what might be New York’s largest corporate subsidy in history, pushed through with no competitive process. And environmentalists have panned the proposal for supporting dangerous and dirty nuclear power plants at the expense of energy efficiency and renewable energy.
The July 22 letter signed by over 100 organizations and elected officials can be found here: http://www.allianceforagreeneconomy.org/sites/default/files/letter_orgs_electeds_July_22_final.pdf
EXAMPLES OF OTHER SUBMISSIONS REQUESTING MORE TIME OR ASKING QUESTIONS:
Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, New York State Assembly Energy Committee Chair
Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee, Chair of the Chair of the New York State Assembly Committee on Oversight, Analysis and Investigation
Senator David Carlucci, Independent Democratic Conference Whip and Chair Social Services
Sarah Imboden, Councilperson, Town of Red Hook, Dutchess County
Colleen Teal, Town Supervisor, Town of New Lebanon
League of Women Voters NYS, New York Public Interest Group, Common Cause, and Reinvent Albany
Council on Intelligent Energy & Conservation Policy, Promoting Health and Sustainable Energy (PHASE):
Nuclear Information and Resource Service
Alliance for a Green Economy