State officials are saying they were caught by surprise Monday when Entergy announced it plans to close the FitzPatrick Nuclear Plant in Oswego County. New York state had been in talks with Entergy, but the company said it didn't get the agreement it was looking for. But, state leaders are saying if the talks are not reopened, they will take matters into their own hands.
Entergy officials have repeatedly said they would make a decision on the future of the FitzPatrick plant by the end of October. As talks continued last week, state Sen. Patty Ritchie (R-Oswegatchie) said she thought the negotiations weren't finished.
"Things were going in the right direction and I’m not quite sure what precipitated," said Ritchie.
But on Monday, Entergy said it would close FitzPatrick at the end of its current fuel cycle in about a year. The plant would then begin laying off its staff -- 300 by 2017 and another 150 in 2018.
"Over 600 jobs being lost in a place like Oswego County is just going to devastate the area along with the loss to the tax base," said Ritchie.
That's why Ritchie is calling on Entergy and the state to come back to the negotiating table. She is joined in that effort by Assemblyman Will Barclay (R-Pulaski), who said it's not too late to reopen talks.
"I understand that they still have up to the end of the year to make the decision on refueling even though they already announced it publicly. They’re both kind of taking a hard line right now, but I think the governor is willing to continue to negotiate and I hope Entergy will be too," said Barclay.
But in a statement on Monday, Gov. Andrew was critical of Entergy's decision, which he called callous. Cuomo said he will take any legal or regulatory step necessary to stop Entergy from closing FitzPatrick. U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer said he too will fight the closure.
"I am just furious at Entergy for doing this. It’s callous, it’s wrong and hopefully they can be persuaded to reverse it or we can stop them even if they’re not persuaded," Schumer told reporters in Syracuse.
Schumer said he believes the most promising way to fight the decision might be through the state Public Service Commission, which will study whether FitzPatrick is crucial to the region's grid reliability. However, Entergy spokesman Jerry Nappi says previous tests have determined that FitzPatrick was not necessary to fulfill the energy needs of the region.