Exelon buys upstate New York nuclear plant

Exelon buys upstate New York nuclear plant
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Exelon Generation has agreed to buy an upstate New York nuclear power plant that seemed on the verge of closing just last year. 

Entergy Corp. will sell its James A. FitzPatrick plant outside of Syracuse to Exelon for $110 million, officials announced on Tuesday. The companies expect regulatory approval by early next year, when Exelon plans to refuel the plant. 

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The transaction comes a week after New York officials approved a $1 billion package to subsidize three nuclear plants in the state. Nuclear operators supported the measure, and Exelon said it was crucial to the company's decision to buy and operate the FitzPatrick facility.

In a statement, Exelon President and CEO Chris Crane specifically thanked New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) for his work on the Clean Energy Standard.

“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,” Crane said. 

In a statement announcing the deal Tuesday, Cuomo said the deal is important for both the local economy and the state's environmental policies.   

"This state needs a clean energy policy that is realistic and can be implemented before we destroy this planet and I believe that nuclear plays an important rule in that clean energy policy," he said, according to a video of his speech from the Syracuse Post-Standard.

Entergy in November said it would be forced to close the 838-megawatt FitzPatrick plant by 2017, citing cheap natural gas and state policies that made nuclear plants expensive to operate. 

Officials and the nuclear industry had looked for ways to keep the plant operating. The state’s Public Service Commission last week approved a clean energy standard requiring half the state’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2030, and provided $1 billion over two years to subsidize FitzPatrick and two other nuclear plants in the state. 

Exelon and Entergy have been negotiating a potential sale of the plant since last year. Regulatory agencies — including the Public Service Commission and the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission — still need to sign off on the deal. 

—This post was updated at 4:20 p.m.