In New York, Fate Of R.E. Ginna Deal Is In Public Service Commission's Hands

The New York Public Services Commission is listening, and on the line is a deal struck by Rochester Gas & Electric and Exelon Corporation, the owners of the R.E. Ginna Nuclear Power Plant in Ontario, New York, that Exelon says will keep the nuclear power plant in the black through 2017 and possibly beyond.

The three-year and a half year deal represents a BandAid fix to an economic fault line in which falling natural gas prices and stagnant demand have put nuclear power plants on the edge of closure. Three Exelon plants in Illinois face similar revenue problems and the Vermont Yankee plant closed at the end of 2014 due to economic reasons.

Exelon has also said Ginna could have to close. That forced RG&E and Exelon to negotiate a deal for which public hearings were held this week.

The deal, which will cost customers $6.11 a month to start – a surcharge that will diminish over time -- will raise revenue by $175 million.

At the first public hearing in Webster, N.Y., hundreds of Ginna supporters showed up, according to the Rochester Chronicle and Democrat. The primary reason many showed up wearing “I support Ginna” tee-shirts is that the hearing was held less than seven miles from the plant. Webster is a company town, the newspaper said.

The message, loud and clear, was that $6.11 per month was well worth the price for keeping Ginna running.

The deal would end in 2018, at which point, RG&E says it will have transmission infrastructure in place that will allow it to import electricity from other sources, which would ensure grid reliability.

In Webster on Wednesday, one customer said no, emphatically. Rod Kucera, plant manager of manufacturing business Pactiv Canandaigua said the annual electric bill of $4.5 million last year would go up by $1.8 million over 3 ½ years if the PSC approved the deal.

On Thursday, in a letter made public in the second of two public hearings, the President of the University of Rochester Joel Seligman wrote that the university would see its electric bill go up by $3 million if the deal was approved.

The PSC now deliberates over the case. Even RG&E has said it cannot guarantee grid reliability if Ginna closes. So, the question remains for the PSC to decide if it’s worth the price.

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  • Anonymous

    VERY Good article!

    We will find out whether sheer fear wins over fact and reason shortly.

    Two points please:

    I thought GLOBAL WARMING meant we're ALL in the same boat called Earth and that to my knowledge no one's managed to seal off their territory's own atmosphere from everyone elses. So it behooves us all to push nukes in every country we can instead of just sitting idly by, watching them shutter while pumping fossil fuels instead while icecaps melt.

    Regarding Germany and Japan; Maybe I'm ultra-dense but I've yet heard a rational of just WHY you'd shut down your own plants based an elsewhere incident caused by a once in ten lifetimes event and rare worst reactor failures (3 chances for Doomsday in a row!!!) that killed no one at the plant and only caused local damage within its gates (let's overlook the oil and gas facility fatalities and pollution in Tokyo during the same quake.)

    James Greenidge

    Queens NY