Monday, May 1, 2017

Dinowitz Holds State Officials Accountable at Nuclear Bailout Hearing

Dinowitz raises concerns over impact to downstate ratepayers, state's process for devising, implementing plan

  In Albany this morning, the Assembly Standing Committees on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions; Consumer Affairs and Protection; Energy; and Environmental Conservation convened a joint public hearing to discuss the Clean Energy Standard established by the Public Service Commission (PSC). The standard, which the PSC approved in 2016, establishes the goal of obtaining 50% of the state's electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

At issue in today's hearing was a component of the standard that would require state utility companies to purchase so-called Zero-Emissions Credits (ZECs) from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), and use them to subsidize four upstate nuclear plants owned by the Exelon Corporation.

Dinowitz has frequently criticized the proposal, contending that the costs, estimated at as much as $7.6 billion over its 12-year lifespan, would disproportionately fall on downstate ratepayers. The Bronx Assemblyman had previously raised these concerns at an earlier joint hearing in March that lawmakers convened, but which PSC officials refused to attend. In a letter to lawmakers following the March hearing, PSC officials both blamed the chairs for failing to provide advance notice of the hearing, and contended that pending lawsuits by environmental groups prevented them from testifying.

With PSC Interim Chair Gregg Sayre and NYSERDA President and CEO John Rhodes both testifying today, Dinowitz took the opportunity to grill the state officials on the issues. Dinowitz began his questions by asking the PSC Chair how the agency calculated its estimates for energy consumer rates.

"Was there a calculation done to estimate energy consumer rates only paid by the service area where the four nuclear plants were located," Dinowitz asked.

"No," responded Sayre. "Benefits from the ZEC program in the form of carbon reduction are statewide and based on benefits per megawatt hour."

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