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'Financial crisis' averted: Exelon will keep FitzPatrick nuclear plant open in Oswego County

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James A. FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant

James A. FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant in Scriba, Oswego County will remain open after its transfer to Exelon. 

A $110 million agreement reached between two energy companies will prevent the closure of the James A. FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant in Scriba, Oswego County. 

Under the deal, which must be approved by federal and state regulators, Entergy will transfer FitzPatrick's operating license to Exelon — a move that will preserve more than 600 jobs at the plant. 

"We are pleased to have reached an agreement for the continued operation of FitzPatrick," Exelon President and CEO Chris Crane said. "We look forward to bringing FitzPatrick's highly skilled team of professionals into the Exelon Generation nuclear program, and to continue delivering to New York the environmental, economic and grid reliability benefits of this important energy asset."

Entergy revealed in July that it was in talks with Exelon to sell the plant. The announcement was significant because previous attempts to prevent the plant's closure had failed. 

Last year, there was speculation about FitzPatrick's future. And then Entergy announced in November that the company planned to close the plant in early 2017. 

Entergy cited market conditions, among other factors, for the decision to close the facility. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo intervened and said the state would attempt to prevent FitzPatrick's closure. The state's negotiations with Entergy weren't successful and the company moved forward with plans to close the nuclear power plant

Earlier this year, Entergy set a date to close the plant — January 2017. The state again made a last-ditch effort to keep FitzPatrick open, but the company said it wouldn't alter its decision

Exelon and Entergy officials said FitzPatrick and other nuclear power plants in upstate New York were at risk of closing if it wasn't for the state's Clean Energy Standard, which was adopted last week by the state Public Service Commission

Cuomo, who attended a rally Tuesday morning in Oswego to celebrate Exelon's acquisition of FitzPatrick, said the impact of the plant shutting down operations would have been devastating. 

"I believe if FitzPatrick closed, it would be a financial crisis for the entire region," he said. "Some people estimate central New York would lose $500 million. Central New York cannot lose $500 million. The county cannot lose FitzPatrick as a taxpayer."

U.S. Rep. John Katko, whose district includes Scriba and the western portion of Oswego County, said he's excited for the county and the entire region. 

As for the role he played in the sale, he said he "bugged the hell out of" Entergy's CEO, Leo Denault.

"I had (Denault's cell phone number) and I was on him all the time," he said. "When the state stepped up, I just felt like that was the missing piece of the puzzle and I think that's what really helped make this work." 

If the agreement is approved, the sale will be finalized in the second quarter of 2017. Exelon said it will refuel FitzPatrick in January. 

The company also touted the benefits of the state's Clean Energy Standard for its other upstate nuclear power plants — Ginna in Wayne County and Nine Mile Point in Oswego County. 

"We thank Governor Cuomo and his administration for their part in facilitating an agreement to save FitzPatrick," Crane said. "His leadership on the CES and preserving zero-emissions assets has truly positioned New York as the nation's leader in clean energy." 

Online producer Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.


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