Ginna, With A Reprieve, To Enter RSSA With RG&E

The New York Public Services Commission voted unanimously late last week to give the R. E. Ginna Nuclear Power Plant near Rochester a reprieve.

The vote on Thursday will allow Ginna owner Constellation Nuclear Energy Group, an Exelon subsidiary, to enter a Reliability Support Services Agreement, which would require Rochester Gas and Electric to purchase electricity from the 44-year-old single-reactor power plant. Lack of an agreement threatened the future of the plant. The previous purchase agreement with the 577-megawatt plant expired June 30 of this year.

A new agreement would allow Ginna, one of the oldest NPPs in the country, to stay operational until 2018.

In an era of subsidiaries for wind and solar power production and historically low gas prices, Ginna is looking for recognition as a zero-carbon source of electricity, which should increase its desirability, if not the price of its electricity.

“Ideally, we'd like a market-based solution that puts us on a level playing field with the other energy producers,” WHAM-TV, an ABC affiliate, quoted plant spokeswoman Maria Hudson as saying.

“We're just looking to be more competitive with other greenhouse gas friendly producers,” she said.

The plant, Hudson noted, has purchased new, portable "flex equipment" so that workers can react quickly to an emergency. In addition, repairs were made after an inspection this year revealed the vulnerability of backup power systems to flooding -- specifically a backup battery room.

It would have required 27-inches of rain in a 24-hour deluge to have flooded the room, but that problem has been resolved, Hudson said. "The process worked through. We identified the issue, promptly fixed it, and it never had an impact on plant safety," she said.

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  • Anonymous

    The PSC is not authorizing the RSSA for any alleged emissions benefits from Ginna. The only reason PSC can do this is because there is a reliability need that would not be met if the reactor closes. In the case of Ginna, this is due to the failure of the PSC, the utility, and NYISO to do two things: (a) recognize that Ginna would be vulnerable to closure once the previous PPA expired, which has been known for at least two years, but could have been anticipated by all three at least two years earlier; and (b) to do adequate planning and investment in the infrastructure. As a result of these failures, ratepayers are going to be forced to subsidize one of the most uneconomical power plants in the state, potentially for years, and at much higher rates and local economic impacts than has been the case with other RSSAs. Exelon is just trying to turn its lumps of coal into gold, by leveraging its poor investment decisions in aging reactors into wholesale energy policy reforms and anti-competitive market-rigging schemes.  

  • Anonymous

    I agree with the comment on poor planning, but I would be interested to hear a valid baseload power source that is more economical than Ginna, that could have been brought online on 2 to 3 years.  This is NY state. It would take at least a decade to pass the regulatory barriers to get a none nuclear replacement online.

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