Kavanagh Stands with Colleagues to Demand Answers Regarding Nuclear Subsidy Payments by Consumers
On Wednesday, March 22, 2017, Assemblymember Kavanagh, Chair of the Consumer Affairs and Protection Committee, held a press conference with Energy Chair Amy Paulin, Corporations Chair Jeffrey Dinowitz, Environmental Conservation Chair Steve Englebright, and other Assemblymembers to question the lack of transparency by the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) regarding massive subsidies to a large corporation to operate upstate nuclear power plants that are set to take effect on April 1. Absent a clearer public justification for the program, disclosure of the terms, and full consideration of the alternatives, Kavanagh believes the subsidies – and the charges to consumers that would pay for them – should not go into effect.
While the State’s Clean Energy Standard, adopted in August 2016 to achieve 50% renewable energy statewide by 2030, has received widespread praise for establishing New York as a leader committed to combating climate change, the twelve-year, multi-billion dollar tax credits, known as Zero Emissions Credits (ZECs), for nuclear subsidies intended to maintain the private operation of four nuclear reactors, remains the subject of much debate. The program would impose a statewide surcharge, scheduled to take effect on April 1, on energy consumers – residential customers, businesses, and public agencies alike – to cover the subsidies. Some have estimated the subsidies will cost consumers as much as $7.6 billion over the next twelve years.
On Monday, March 6, the Committees on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions, Energy, Environmental Conservation, and Consumer Affairs and Protection had held a joint hearing to review the ZEC program. However, the PSC’s failure to testify left legislators with many unanswered questions regarding the overall program cost, the manner in which the cost is distributed, and the role transmission and storage upgrades, renewable energy sources, and conservation might play in addressing the region’s energy needs more efficiently and safely, and at a lower cost. Though the issue remains unresolved, Assemblymember Kavanagh continues the fight to protect New York consumers from paying unfair fees and to demand satisfactory responses to outstanding concerns.