The announcement that the FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant will continue to operate under new ownership was met with disappointment by critics who say the energy is increasingly unsafe and expensive. Program director for the Alliance for a Green Economy Jessica Azulay says a $7.6 billion investment in nuclear power is a big mistake.
"I am floored that the state decided that a 12 year commitment to nuclear power was the way to go," Azulay said.
Azulay's disappointment is furthered by the fact that the issue can not be revisited in just a few years. She says the state should have decided to support lower cost, safer, cleaner renewable energy that would have saved consumers money while creating more jobs.
"I could understand an argument about a lesser of evils, and that we have to figure out how to balance the various horrible environmental impact of our many energy sources that are dirty and dangerous," Azulay said. "But, I refuse to accept that because we have renewable energy and energy efficiency and with the right state policy and the right support, we could be building it much more rapidly than we are."
However, Azulay says there was no evidence-based process to look at the alternatives.
"If we have this kind of money on the table, what is the best use of it? What is the best opportunity for consumers and for the environment," Azulay wondered. "We never got to compare different scenarios to see what the opportunity costs might be of investing so much money in nuclear power."
Azulay says it appears the only goal of the governor and the public service commission was to find a way to save upstate’s nuclear plants. Meanwhile, she says the aging FitzPatrick plant continues to struggle with electrical problems, and is still not operating at full power. Activist Jerry Lotierzo says those issues can't be dismissed.
"We understand the enormous revenue that comes from those plants and the jobs that are created. We understand that," Lotierzo said. "But we also understand how dangerous those nuclear plants can be. We have had disasters in Chernobyl and Fukushima. We do not want a disaster that would impact so many people."