Democrats like to pretend nuclear power isn’t necessary — until they find out that a reactor in their neighborhood is closing.
For proof, look no further than the reactions from Gov. Cuomo and Sen. Charles Schumer (both Democrats) to the recent news that Entergy Corp. plans to close its 838-megawatt FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant in Oswego by early 2017.
It’s remarkable to hear of Cuomo’s concern for Entergy’s employees at the FitzPatrick facility (who have average salaries of about $80,000), given that the governor appears so callous about the fate of the 1,050 employees who work at Entergy’s Indian Point Energy Center in Westchester County.
Indeed, just a few days before Entergy announced its plan to close FitzPatrick, Cuomo said flatly “I want to close Indian Point.” Cuomo says his desire to close the 2,069-megawatt nuclear plant is merely an issue of safety: there’s always the possibility of an accident at the plant, according to the governor.
But Cuomo hasn’t provided any clues as to how he would replace the plant. That’s a remarkable omission given that Indian Point provides up to one-fourth of New York City’s electricity and is an essential power-generation asset during the summer months when electricity demand soars.
Cuomo and Schumer are strong supporters of policies that have contributed to the economic woes both of FitzPatrick and other plants. Both men support New York’s increasingly stringent renewable-portfolio mandate, which requires that 30 percent of electricity used by consumers comes from renewable generating resources by 2030. Moreover, Cuomo wants to increase that mandate to 50 percent by 2030.
But those mandates — along with stout federal subsidies given to wind and solar companies — are artificially driving down the price of electricity in the wholesale market. Those lower prices hurt legitimate, unsubsidized companies — including the owners of nuclear plants — because they don’t get those same mandates and subsidies.
Schumer, like many of his fellow Democrats on Capitol Hill, has been a big supporter of the production-tax credit, the federal subsidy that provides wind-energy facilities a $23 tax credit for every megawatt-hour of electricity they produce. Schumer’s also a big proponent of subsidies for solar energy. In August, he held a press conference at which he said the “solar investment tax credit has been nothing short of a bright success.”
He also credited solar energy for creating jobs.
Contrast Schumer’s support for wind and solar power with his record on nuclear energy. In 2006, he decried the provisions of a then-pending piece of energy legislation because it didn’t include a national mandate for renewable electricity. He said that instead of more renewables, the bill would mean that “old energy wins out over new energy.” And he called the legislation “a goodie bag for oil, coal and nuclear.”
Never mind that America’s nuclear fleet is reducing domestic carbon dioxide emissions by about 600 million tons per year, which is about six times the emissions reductions claimed by America’s wind-energy sector — and 23 times the amount claimed by America’s solar-energy sector.
Cuomo and Schumer’s selective outrage over Entergy’s announcement to close FitzPatrick ought to be seen for what it really is: Nothing more than political pandering. If they’re truly serious about saving jobs and reducing carbon-dioxide emissions, they should be supporting the domestic nuclear sector in general — and the New York fleet in particular.
Original story may be found here.