Sen. Ted O’Brien, a Rochester-area lawmaker, has raised concerns about the potential closure of Indian Point, the nuclear power plant in Westchester County.
O’Brien in October transferred $240,000 to the firm, the Manhattan-based Parkside Group, for ads during his run for the Senate. Parkside was re-hired last December by Entergy for $6,500 a month.
Updated: Parkside has served as the company’s lobbying firm in New York City, not Albany, for at least eight years.
O’Brien, D-Irondequoit, Monroe County, said there is no connection between his concerns about Indian Point and the Parkside Group’s lobbying role for the company.
“I can tell you honestly that I didn’t know they represented Entergy,” O’Brien said during an editorial board meeting today with the Democrat and Chronicle. “No one from Parkside Group has contacted me about that or any other issue. They were a consultant that I used to publish campaign mailers. And they produced them. That’s the extent of it. They’ve never talked to me about that or any other legislative issue since the end of the campaign.”
The Parkside Group is a leading political consultant for Senate Democrats, and some of the members want to close Indian Point—as does Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Some Senate Democrats, including Sen. Michael Gianaris, D-Queens, want to keep it open. Entergy has several lobbyists in Albany, records show.
O’Brien has raised concerns about Indian Point’s closure because he said upstate taxpayers could be on the hook for $200 million in additional energy costs. He has called on the state Public Service Commission to take into the account the effects on upstate if the facility closed.
“I’m not advocating to keep it open,” O’Brien said. “I specifically said close or open it, that’s a different decision, but don’t make upstate ratepayers pay for it.”
(Includes reporting by Democrat and Chronicle staff writer Jessica Alaimo.)