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Source: Albany Times Union

Power plant reports pushed

Stricter financial disclosure rules gain support from legislators, regulators

BY LARRY RULISON
BUSINESS WRITER

Posted: June 10, 2011
Originally Published: June 9, 2011

ALBANY -- State legislators and regulators are moving toward stricter financial disclosure requirements for the state's power plants -- including Indian Point nuclear plant in Westchester County.

Last week, the state Assembly passed a bill sponsored by Assemblyman James Brennan, a Brooklyn Democrat, that would require such annual financial reports to be filed with the state Public Service Commission.

Brennan has been pushing the measure after discovering that the PSC has long been allowing power plants to fulfill state financial disclosure requirements by filing annual reports with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

But since that decision was made in the early 1990s, FERC has apparently weakened its own filing requirements.

Brennan has been investigating the financial health of the Indian Point nuclear power plant, which has been targeted by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and others for closure as a public health risk. Brennan, who supports closing the plant, says he wants to know what impact that would have on the state's energy markets and economy. He says he is also researching claims by the plant's owner, Entergy Corp., that closing the plant would be too expensive.

After passing the full Assembly, 122-16, Brennan's bill has now moved onto the Senate's energy and telecommunications committee. The bill also has a sponsor there, state Sen. Kevin Parker.

The PSC has also started its own inquiry into the issue and is asking the public for comments through mid-July, which is standard procedure in such cases.

In a June 3 filing, the PSC said it was reevaluating its filing requirements because "FERC has repeatedly reduced the scope of the filing requirements it imposes on wholesale generators," and that "it now appears that meeting the FERC filing requirements no longer also meets the disclosure requirements" of the state.

It is likely that several environmental groups will support new disclosure requirements through the PSC, including Environmental Advocates, the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Hudson Riverkeeper and the Sierra Club, all of which have voiced support for Brennan's bill.

Entergy has declined to comment on the issue because it is already engaged in a dispute with the PSC over financial disclosures.