Three bills that provide protections for jobs and taxpayers during the decommissioning of the Indian Point nuclear power plants in Buchanan were approved in Albany last week.
The three pieces of legislation were sponsored by State Senator Peter Harckham (D/Mt. Kisco) and State Assemblywoman Sandy Galef (D/Ossining) and were expected to be signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo.
“With less than a year until the third and last reactor goes offline at Indian Point, it is necessary to ensure that proper safeguards and guidelines are in place to protect the existing workforce and their families and guaranteeing revenue for local municipalities and schools,” said Harckham. “Sandy Galef, my legislative partner in this regard, and my Senate colleagues all understand the urgency involved in these issues, and I thank them for helping to move the legislation forward.”
These bills help to retain as much of the current workforce as possible while ensuring they are compensated appropriately, allow for a steady stream of revenue to the taxing jurisdictions through a PILOT, and compensate our communities for the storage of spent nuclear fuel,” Galef said. “As Indian Point moves from active energy generation toward decommissioning each bill eases the transition, protecting workers, taxpayers, and communities.”
The first bill addresses the possible negative impact to the workforce during the decommissioning by keeping workers at Indian Point at the prevailing wages commensurate with the wages being paid for the same work in this area. This stays in effect whether the plant’s present corporate owner, Entergy, or a new owner chosen to enact the decommissioning is in control of operations.
The bill also focuses on the necessity of professional maintenance of the Indian Point facility during its decommissioning by requiring that new hires are selected from a list of qualified employees at the plant.
“We thank our state legislators for standing with the workers of Indian Point and creating legislation designed to protect jobs,” said Thomas Carey, President of the Westchester/Putnam Central Labor Body, AFL-CIO. “My family and I have had the opportunity for nearly 50 years to have worked at the plant, so I know personally the importance of these jobs to the community, and the region, and the significance of saving them.”
To steady tax revenues for the Town of Cortlandt, Village of Buchanan and Hendrick Hudson School District during the transition, legislation was passed to include spent fuel and the fuel casks at the nuclear facility as part of its real property tax assessment. Otherwise, market value of the non-operating plant will adversely affect the assessment and create an unmanageable revenue gap for these tax-funded entities.
The third bill deals with Indian Point’s PILOT (Payment in Liu of Taxes) agreement, which is set to expire in April 2021. The bill allows “formerly generating” energy plants to make these payments as well.
“Senator Harckham and Assemblywoman Galef worked hard with our community to draft these important bills that are designed to help generate badly needed tax revenue for our village, as well to protect jobs,” Buchanan Mayor Theresa Knickerbocker said. “At a time of crisis when our village faces a staggering loss of tax dollars and jobs, our legislators listened to us and delivered for our community.”
Harckham and Galef have also introduced legislation, still yet to be voted on, to create a statewide board to oversee the decommissioning of Indian Point. This legislation would bring New York State to the table to oversee and monitor the decommissioning of any nuclear plant in the state.