03 Mar Critics estimate what your town, school district will pay for nuke subsidies
Opponents of New York’s nuclear subsidies today released a study estimating the financial impact that $462 million a year in nuclear subsidies will have on towns, counties, school districts and other organizations.
Utility companies will begin adding the cost of the subsidies to customers’ bills April 1. The subsidies were authorized last year as one component of a state clean energy standard adopted by the Public Service Commission.
Opponents hope that by drawing attention to the costs, they can spur state legislators to intervene and block the subsidies.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and PSC officials have said the extra payments will keep three financially challenged Upstate nuclear plants in operation, securing a significant supply of power produced without emitting greenhouse gases. Two of the three plants – FitzPatrick and Nine Mile Point – are in Oswego County, where they pay millions in taxes and employ more than 1,500 in high-paying jobs.
Critics say the subsidies are propping up facilities that should be allowed to close. A coalition calling itself “Stop the Cuomo Tax” released the study today, saying utility customers might not be aware of how the new cost will affect them.
“Since the Cuomo administration has kept this process largely in the dark, it’s up to us to educate the public on the tremendous hit all ratepayers are going to take,” said Blair Horner, executive director of the New York Public Interest Research Group and a leader of the anti-subsidy coalition. “We hope this analysis will spur lawmakers to block the plan.”
A new charge of roughly $0.0033 per kilowatt-hour will begin appearing on customer bills next month. For an average household, the charge will add about $2 to the monthly bill.
Analysts at the Public Utility Law Project, an advocacy group that represents low-income customers in utility rate proceedings, produced the study issued today. They estimated what nuclear subsidies will cost various municipalities and other organizations.
The study assumes that electricity bills for each organization fall within a standard range of percentages of the total budget. For example, the study assumes that municipalities spend between 0.5 percent and 1.5 percent of total expenditures on electric bills.
Here is their estimate of what the subsidies will cost several Syracuse-area customers in the first year:
St. Joseph’s Hospital: between $159,672 and $399,179
City of Syracuse: between $42,953 and $128,859
Village of East Syracuse: between $681 and $2,043
North Syracuse Central School District: between $20,412 and $61,235
Onondaga County: between $152,162 and $456,485
Syracuse University: between $113,144 and $339,431.
The entire study is below.
Officials at the PSC say they expect the value of nuclear subsidy payments to decrease in future years, because they predict that wholesale prices will rise and cover more of the cost of operating the nuclear plants. The subsidies will be in place for 12 years.
Regulators also maintain that if the nuclear plants closed, power prices would rise faster than currently anticipated because of the reduced supply.