The New York State Legislature has set aside $30 million in its new budget for communities devastated by closing power plants that result in at least a 20 percent reduction in the local property tax collections. It's intended to help offset the loss in places like Oswego County where the Fitzpatrick Nuclear Power Plant is slated to be shutdown in January.
The fund will be distributed by the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) on a first-come, first-served basis, although an ESDC official says the law didn't set a minimum or maximum number of recipients. But, payments cannot be made until the lights have actually been turned off.
Michael Treadwell, CEO of Oswego County's Industrial Development Agency (IDA), said while the money could help mitigate the cost of losing FitzPatrick, it does not come close to what the plant currently offers.
"It's just -- changing one tire on the car at best, but it's something - something to build from," Treadwell said.
Some local governments are already feeling that loss. A newly approved tax agreement that factors in the plant's upcoming closure requires FitzPatrick to pay $12 million in property taxes to Oswego County, the Mexico School District and the town of Scriba. That is down from the $17 million it paid last year and under the agreement, the payments continue to decline over the next five years. It's why state lawmakers say they are still working to find a way to keep the plant open.