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Regulators to look at Ginna contract


Rochester Gas and Electric has agreed to support the financially struggling Ginna nuclear plant so that the plant can keep operating, at least temporarily. But the deal first needs the approval of the State Public Service Commission.

The commission will hold a procedural conference on the contract — a formal hearing in front of an administrative judge — on March 10 in Albany.

Supporters and opponents of the deal will present issues that they want the commission to consider. In a subsequent hearing, the groups will present evidence supporting those positions.

Last year, Ginna filed a petition saying that it lost $100 million over the past three years and requesting the temporary support contract. The commission agreed to the request because, it said, the sudden closure of Ginna could create reliability problems in the local electric system.

Under the proposed contract, RG&E would pay Ginna a base amount of $17.5 million a month. Ginna would sell its electricity on the statewide market, and it would rebate 85 percent of those revenues to RG&E, effectively reducing the utility's payment.

RG&E's customers would pick up the costs, which could lead to an estimated 4.2 percent increase in their bills. That amounts to about $3.89 per month for the average residential customer.

But the agreement's critics say that Ginna should shut down if its economics don't work, and that state and utilities officials should turn their attention to renewable power and transmission improvements.

"I think people in this state have taken enough of a hit," says Michele Anderson, an organizer for Alliance for a Green Economy, a statewide advocacy group opposed to nuclear power.