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First Hearing in Suit to Stop NY Nuclear Bailout

The R.E. Ginna Nuclear Power Plant on Lake Ontario was commissioned in 1970. (U.S. Department of Energy)
The R.E. Ginna Nuclear Power Plant on Lake Ontario was commissioned in 1970. (U.S. Department of Energy)
June 21, 2017

ALBANY, N.Y. - Environmental groups and the New York Public Service Commission have faced off in court in a lawsuit to stop subsidies to nuclear power plants.

The state Supreme Court heard arguments Monday on preliminary motions in the case that challenges the state's bid to add billions of dollars to consumers' electric bills to keep three aging, upstate nuclear plants from closing.

The 12-year subsidy was approved as part of the state's Clean Energy Standard, but according to Manna Jo Greene, environmental action director for Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, those subsidies work against achieving the stated goal.

"If we put $7.6 billion in the nuclear subsidy," she said, "then that funding is not available to accelerate the transition to a renewable-energy economy."

The PSC has claimed that nuclear power is clean energy because the reactors don't produce carbon emissions. However, Greene pointed out that, in the coalition's view, nuclear power is anything but clean.

"It has its own emissions," she said, "and generates huge amounts of highly-radioactive fuel, for which there is no really good storage solution."

If successful in their lawsuit, the plaintiffs want the Clean Energy Standard revised to remove references to clean-energy credits for nuclear power.

The PSC has contended that organizations based in the Hudson Valley, far from the three reactors, have no standing to sue. Greene noted, however, that every New Yorker now is being forced to pay for that nuclear power, including those who made the choice to buy electricity only from renewable sources such as wind and solar.

"Against the choice, against the principles of free enterprise, and against what's going to work in the marketplace," she said.

The subsidy, in the form of a surcharge to utility companies, went into effect in April.

More information is online at

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NY