Ginna

The Ginna nuclear power plant in Ontario, Wayne County, employs about 600 people.

LYONS — The Ginna Nuclear Power Plant is set to close in September 2029, but the Wayne County Board of Supervisors plans to urge the state Climate Action Council to consider it and three other upstate facilities a component of New York’s carbon-free energy plan.

That recognition would mean extending the license of Ginna, as well as the three nuclear power facilities in Scriba, Oswego County, for another 20 years.

The Board of Supervisors was set to vote Tuesday morning on a resolution asking that the four nuclear plants be included in the state’s Climate Action Council Scoping Plan, along with an extension of the zero-emission credit program.

The resolution expected to be adopted by supervisors follows a similar measure passed by the Oswego County Legislature in May, County Administrator Rick House confirmed Monday.

“It’s very hard to argue against nuclear,” said House because of its zero-carbon emissions and plant-safety improvements. “The plants are in good shape.”

The measure is supported by Exelon Generation, the owners of Ginna and the three Oswego nuclear power plants, House explained. He also noted that Ginna continues to provide good-paying jobs, with about 600 working at the Ontario plant. Although not the tax-revenue producer it once was, given recent payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreements, Ginna still provides millions in revenue for taxing entities that include the county, town of Ontario and the Wayne Central School District.

Advocates are pushing the Climate Action Council to include nuclear power initiatives in its scoping plan, charged with significantly reducing carbon emissions in the next 18 years. It currently calls for the expansion of wind and solar power, along with developing low-carbon fuels such as green hydrogen and bioenergy.

The supervisors argue nuclear power needs to be part of the answer to the state’s plans to rely solely on carbon-free emissions by 2040 in an effort to fight climate change. They note in the resolution that the plants “operate continuously and currently produce 44% of New York’s zero-carbon-emission electricity, representing 3,300 megawatts of reliable and safe power for New York’s residents and businesses.”

The resolution also states that “the facilities operate with a 95% capacity factor, the highest in the nation, meet the highest standards of reliability and safety, and are well-positioned to run for decades.”

Supervisors also ask that the Zero-Emissions Credit program be extended beyond the current expiration of 2029. The program provides financial incentives for energy companies who produce carbon-free emissions.

Climate Action Council’s final scoping plan is due Jan. 1, 2023.

House said he can’t predict if the moves by Wayne and Oswego counties and nuclear energy advocates will convince the Climate Action Council to reconsider nuclear energy.

A spokesperson for the state Department of Environmental Conservation told the Albany Times Union that New York “has already realized ‘considerable cost declines’ for solar, onshore and offshore wind technologies citing ‘distributed solar incentives reduced 85% over the last decade, 20 to 40% year-over-year cost declines in large-scale land-based renewables, and 40% cheaper offshore wind prices compared to 2018 estimates.’”

House noted that the demand for electricity will only grow as more people purchase electric vehicles.

“That electricity has to come from somewhere,” he said.

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