Why Cuomo Is Trying to Save One Nuclear Plant and Shut Another

  • New York governor wants Entergy to keep FitzPatrick plant open
  • He also wants its Indian Point plant near New York City closed

Governor Andrew Cuomo is playing both sides of the nuclear power coin in New York -- and Entergy Corp. is stuck in the middle.

Entergy said Monday that it will shut the FitzPatrick nuclear power plant near Syracuse, New York, in late 2016 or early 2017, another in a series of planned closings by the New Orleans-based company that also includes the Vermont Yankee reactor and the Pilgrim plant south of Boston as they’re squeezed by the shale gas boom.

Cuomo, a Democrat, responded immediately that he’ll fight the FitzPatrick closing. At the same time, he’s pressing Entergy to shut its Indian Point nuclear plant, about 40 miles (64 kilometers) north of New York City.

“I want to close Indian Point," Cuomo told reporters in Syracuse Oct. 29. "I want to see FitzPatrick stay open, and these are very different situations and we would handle them one at a time.”

Closing FitzPatrick would mean the loss of 600 jobs in upstate New York, where Cuomo has focused his efforts to revive an economy that’s been struggling through hard times for two generations. Indian Point, and its proximity to New York City, presents an entirely different challenge, he said.

Evacuation Plan

“It is a nuclear power plant that is in the most dense community on the planet," Cuomo said. "They’re supposed to have an evacuation plan for the entire surrounding area. The surrounding area is New York City. You cannot evacuate New York City. What’s the plan? Jump in the river and swim to New Jersey?”

The decision to close FitzPatrick, which began generating electricity in 1975, is based on the plant’s “continued deteriorating economics,” Entergy said Monday in a statement. It cited reduced revenue due to low natural gas prices and high operational costs.

Efforts over the past two months to reach a deal with state officials to avoid a shutdown were unsuccessful, Entergy said.

“New York will pursue every legal and regulatory avenue in an attempt to stop Entergy’s actions and its callous disregard for their skilled and loyal workforce,” Cuomo said in a statement e-mailed Monday.

Entergy rose 0.6 percent to $68.55 at the close in New York. The shares have fallen 22 percent this year.

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