There are 615 people who count on the FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant in Oswego County for more than just their energy; they rely on its paychecks too. A loss of those jobs could be disastrous for Oswego County, whose unemployment rate is among the highest in the state.
Shawn Doyle is one of the plant's employees. He has worked as a security guard at FitzPatrick for 28 years. Since announcing in November that it will begin shutting down the facility by early 2017, Entergy has begun telling some workers when they will be let go.
"It's a tough situation," Doyle said. "A lot of good people that just started in the last few years are looking at being done next year. Some of us will stay on a little bit longer. It’s absolutely sad and economically devastating for this area."
Doyle said even if Entergy did offer him a job at another plant he wouldn't take it.
"My family has been here 200 years and I’m 50 years old," Doyle said.
Many other longtime plant employees are in a similar situation as Doyle. Others too will be reintroduced to the job market for the first time in years. that's where SUNY Oswego hopes to step in.
"We want people to understand we are here, as we have always been, and we will be ramping up some of our services, said Deborah Stanley, president of SUNY Oswego.
The college is leading an effort from the college to help provide jobs and skill sets for the plant's displaced workers. They plan to offer workshops, degrees and certificate programs to help them compete more successfully in the market.
"Help people get back into the workforce in a different way, to take a look at the training levels are that need to be re-thought so that they match up with the skills of these workers coming into this economy in a different way," Stanley said.
In addition to offering courses and workshops, Stanley said the college is partnering with businesses through the Start Up New York program.
"If there are new jobs coming in and people will be earning money and purchasing in the communities and buying homes in the communities and becoming members of the community and volunteer statuses in the schools and such – those are big benefits to our upstate region," Stanley said.
Meanwhile, aluminum manufacturer Novelis just announced an $80,000 investment it is making in Cayuga Community College for the creation of an advanced manufacturing institute. Novelis said the program will train students in manufacturing skills needed at plants like Novelis.