BPU Electric Rate Increase To Subsidize Nuclear Plants

Bills for Jamestown Board of Public Utilities electric customers will increase by 3 percent later this year to subsidize three upstate nuclear power plants.

As part of the Clean Energy Standard that was approved by the state Public Service Commission in August, state utilities are being charged zero-emission credits to support the three nuclear power plants. The Clean Energy Standard calls for New York to acquire 50 percent of its energy from low-carbon resources by 2030. Because the nuclear power plants don’t emit carbon dioxide, they’re seen as a bridge until more renewable energy sources can be used to generate electricity in the future. The zero-emission credits are estimated to cost ratepayers $7.6 billion between now and 2030.

David Leathers, BPU general manger, said the BPU is scheduled to pay $900,000 annually during the next two years toward the zero-emission credits. He said it will represent a $2 a month increase for the average residential customer. The zero-emission credit payment is scheduled to start April 1.

“I wish they had come up with a different way other than adding additional costs, but it’s not our decision,” he said.

Leathers said state officials are supposed to look at the zero-emission credit system every two years. He said if the nuclear power plants start to generate more revenue in two years, Jamestown’s payment might be decreased.

At the start of the year, Leather said BPU customers also have to start paying toward renewable energy credits. However, this program will only costs all BPU customers $3,000 in 2017. However, Leathers said  renewable energy credits might be increasing in future years. That is why BPU employees will be working on a solar project to earn renewable energy credits.

“We are working on a project so we don’t have to buy renewable energy credits,” Leathers said. “We want to start it before renewable energy credits become more expensive.”

In August, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced the state Public Service Commission’s approval of the Clean Energy Standard. Cuomo said the Clean Energy Standard is the most comprehensive and ambitious clean energy mandate in the state’s history to fight climate change, reduce harmful air pollution and ensure a diverse and reliable energy supply. The Clean Energy Standard will require 50 percent of New York’s electricity to come from renewable energy sources like wind and solar by 2030. In its initial phase, utilities and other energy suppliers will be required to procure and phase in new renewable power resources starting with 26.31 percent of the state’s total electricity load in 2017 and grow to 30.54 percent of the statewide total in 2021.

The Clean Energy Standard is enforced by requiring utilities and other energy suppliers to obtain a targeted number of renewable energy credits each year. These credits will be paid to renewable developers to help finance new renewable energy sources that will be added to the electric grid.