To the editor:
This week, the New York State Public Service Commission continues its public hearings on its new Clean Energy Standard. New York has set an ambitious goal which would mandate that 50 percent of all electricity consumed in New York by 2030 come from clean and renewable energy sources. The goal is to reduce carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2030.
Nuclear energy must remain a part of our state’s energy portfolio if we are serious about cutting carbon emissions. Nuclear is a clean, safe, and a reliable source of electricity. Approximately 30 percent of New York’s electricity comes from nuclear generating facilities — of which nearly 18 percent is generated by upstate’s nuclear plants. Because it is carbon free, this makes nuclear a key player in meeting greenhouse gas reduction goals while at the same time, keeping energy costs from increasing unnecessarily. In fact, it is estimated that nuclear saves New Yorkers an estimated $1.7 billion annually because it is so efficient.
We have to look no further than New England for evidence that nuclear power generation keeps carbon emissions low and energy prices from increasing. A report from New England shows that the closure of Vermont Yankee, a nuclear power plant in Vermont, has contributed to a 5 percent increase in carbon emissions in New England in 2015 — the equivalent of 650,000 cars on the road. This increase comes after carbon emissions decreased steadily in the previous five years. During the same period, energy prices have also increased. The scheduled closure of Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth, Mass., in 2019 is expected to cause additional increases in both carbon emissions and consumer prices.
On top of the carbon free generation and consumer energy price considerations, one study estimates that Upstate nuclear plants provide 25,000 good, full-time jobs, both direct and indirect. We often hear how New York needs high tech and high-paying jobs; we have these very jobs in nuclear. We simply cannot afford to lose them for many reasons.
Since the announcement in November that FitzPatrick will close, our collective efforts have centered on what we can do to keep FitzPatrick and other nuclear facilities operating in New York. I am very pleased the new Clean Energy Standards include measures that would drive incentives to nuclear, and finally recognize nuclear power for its capacity, reliability and zero greenhouse gas emissions. It is my sincere hope that this standard is adopted by the Public Service Commission.
Assemblyman Will Barclay (R, C, I—Pulaski)
Barclay represents three upstate nuclear power generators in his Assembly district. He submitted testimony recently to the Public Service Commission’s hearing in Oswego, NY, on the Clean Energy Standards.