New York State Nuclear Bailout Challenged In Lawsuit

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In a lawsuit filed last week, a group of power plant owners are challenging a state plan to rescue three upstate New York nuclear facilities, on the grounds that it will interfere with the federal government’s regulation of energy prices.

The five energy companies and two trade groups which filed are seeking to overturn portions of New York’s Clean Energy Standard. The Standard includes a plan to keep the aging plants in production with the help of a generous subsidy — and it has been very controversial. The energy companies won some of the natural-gas power plants, which are in direct competition to the nuclear plants in selling electricity to utilities.

According to the suit, the nuclear subsidy in question illegally infringes on the federal government’s regulation of the interstate energy market.

“This a bad deal for New Yorkers, who will see their electric bills go up across the state,” said Jonathan Schiller, an attorney for the energy companies. “This subsidy will cost New Yorkers as much as $7.6 billion in payments to a single company.”

Meanwhile, Audrey Zibelman, the chair of the Public Service Commission, stated that the suit was “frivolous” and represented an effort by those with a vested interest in fossil fuel to “deny and thwart actions to combat climate change.”

Sustainable energy is growing more popular and increasingly necessary, and replacing fossil fuel generated energy does make a difference — for instance, the 35 million tons of carbon dioxide which are saved annually by solar energy users. The Clean Energy Standard is a strategy developed to help meet the state goal of 50% renewable energy and cutting carbon emissions by 40% by 2030.

“New York’s goal to reduce carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2030 is essential to protect New York and New Yorkers and we will vigorously defend it and are confident of our success,” Zibelman said in a statement.