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article imageFederal Court upholds New York's nuclear zero-carbon subsidies

By Karen Graham     Sep 28, 2018 in Environment
New York - Two federal appeals courts have now upheld state nuclear power plant subsidies, and in doing so, they have also helped to solidify the legal footing for state renewable energy programs across the country.
Thursday’s decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit found that New York’s Zero Emissions Credit (ZEC) program, designed to support the state's struggling nuclear power plants and keep their zero-carbon power, does not interfere with federal jurisdiction over interstate energy markets.
This ruling is the second in as many weeks, where a federal court on September 13 rejected a challenge to a similar law in Illinois. In both cases, the challenge came from the Electric Power Supply Association, a trade group for power plant owners.
The EPSA released a statement after the Second Circuit Court of Appeals' decision. "EPSA will review the Second Circuit’s opinion and consider all its available legal options in due course. Regardless of any further legal steps, EPSA may pursue, EPSA underscores that the 2nd Circuit and 7th Circuit courts each relied on representations from the U.S. Government that FERC can effectively address any adverse impacts that ZEC nuclear bailouts have on wholesale power markets. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC" must now do what it told the two courts of appeal it would do."
This latest ruling involved New York's program that created a system of subsidies for three nuclear power plants. ZEC is part of a broader state plan to reduce emissions by 30 percent by 2030. Basically, both rulings make it clear that states have the right to regulate electricity prices within their borders.
View of the Robert Emmett Ginna Nuclear Power Plant on the south shore of Lake Ontario at Ontario  N...
View of the Robert Emmett Ginna Nuclear Power Plant on the south shore of Lake Ontario at Ontario, New York.
The decision is also an important victory for the nuclear power industry - hit hard by renewable energy sources and an abundance of cheap natural gas. The decisions of the two courts also reaffirm the need for clean nuclear power as the country transitions to a zero-carbon economy.
Miles Farmer, a staff attorney for the climate and clean energy program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, in discussing the ruling, said, "It is a major win for states and will undoubtedly be relied upon in the framing of new aggressive renewables programs."
The two rulings have also laid the groundwork for other states to follow in Illinois' and New York's footsteps. In April this year, New Jersey's state legislature passed a law to provide a $300 million annual subsidy for the state’s remaining nuclear power plants.
And it is fully expected the New Jersey subsidy program will be challenged in the U.S. District Court for New Jersey on grounds similar to lawsuits filed in other states.
More about New york, Nuclear power plant, zerecarbon, Subsidies, Clean energy
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