fitzpatrick-plant-225.jpg.crop_display.jpg Entergy

Nuclear Power Plant Talks

The economics of nuclear power in America is rapidly changing

Entergy says it is negotiating a possible sale of its FitzPatrick nuclear unit in New York to Exelon, which operates the largest nuclear fleet in the nation.

Exelon has 23 reactors at 14 facilities – including units in New York state.

The future of nuclear power in the country is up in the air, as utilities have experienced flat to declining electricity sales amidst a sharp decline in the cost of generating power from abundant natural gas resources and surging renewables investments.

Exelon last month announced its own plans to shutter two Illinois nuclear plants as a result of current power market conditions, claiming to have lost $800 million in the last two years.

Entergy announced in November it planned to close FitzPatrick next January.

That set off concern among New York leaders who want to keep the plant operating as a source of non-carbon emitting electric power.

“In keeping with our corporate strategy to move away from merchant power markets and toward a company operating exclusively as a utility in regulated markets, we are working with Exelon to come to commercial terms on a sale transaction that depends largely on the final terms and timeliness of the New York State Clean Energy Standard,” Bill Mohl, Entergy wholesale commodities president said in a prepared statement.

“We thank New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his leadership in promoting the Clean Energy Standard, which provides incentives for financially strapped nuclear power plants,” he said.

Chris Crane, Exelon chief executive officer, said at a recent industry conference that 60 percent of Illinois’ generation is non-carbon emitting and of that clean power – 90 percent is nuclear.

But subsidizing renewables at a time of flat power demand is crowding out valuable, viable power.

“We have environment policy without a match with energy policy,” he said. “Add generation to a system that has no load growth and it competes against baseload units.”

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