Rochester Gas and Electric customers will likely prop up the struggling R.E. Ginna nuclear power plant.
The state Public Service Commission has directed RG&E to negotiate a temporary electricity purchase contract with Ginna. Earlier this year, the plant's owner, Exelon subsidiary Constellation Nuclear Energy Group, filed a petition with the PSC requesting that action.
In its filing, the company said that the plant has lost more than $100 million in the past three years and that without the contract it'd move to retire the plant.
Under the agreement, which must be filed by January 15, 2015, RG&E would buy electricity from Ginna only when it needs the power, and at negotiated prices. Ginna and RG&E had a previous contract where the utility purchased 90 percent of the plant's power, but that contract expired earlier this year.
An RG&E spokesperson said that the company won't be able to comment until it reviews the commission's order.
During a commission meeting last week, PSC chair Audrey Zibelman said that the main goal of the order is to ensure reliable electricity service in the Rochester area. Suddenly removing a plant of Ginna's size from the power grid would jeopardize that, she said.
A power sale agreement between RG&E and Ginna would give the utility, the state, and the organization that operates the state's electric grid time to identify alternatives for meeting power demands, she said, should Constellation ultimately close Ginna.
"The issue for us is how do we have an orderly exit," Zibelman said.
Since Ginna's previous contract with RG&E expired, the plant has been selling electricity in New York's competitive market. In its petition, Constellation said that the price that Ginna's power gets isn't enough to cover the plant's operating and investment costs.