LIPA and its ratepayers could spend up to $820 million over the next decade to buy special credits to subsidize upstate nuclear power plants under a previously announced state plan to salvage the facilities, according to data from the state comptroller’s office.

LIPA between April 2019 and March 2030 will provide the funds through the state Energy Research and Development Authority, which administers a program called Zero Emission Credits established by the Cuomo Administration in 2016. The credits help subsidize nuclear power plants, including those owned by Exelon Corp. which faced imminent closure until the state stepped in.

Opponents at the time criticized the program as a bailout for big energy conglomerates and plants that leave a legacy of nuclear waste, but administration officials defended it as needed to meet new zero-carbon emissions goals.

Long Islanders will have two avenues to mitigate the nuclear credit bill. For one, LIPA’s interest in the Nine Mile Point 2 nuclear power plant will enable it to receive about $254 million in offsetting credits, according to the authority, as long as LIPA retains its 20 percent ownership.

The net impact of those credits should reduce the $820 million to around $566 million through 2029, LIPA said.

In addition, if the cost of energy increases, LIPA could potentially pay less for the credits, LIPA said. It’s unclear how much or why that would happen, given energy costs that LIPA has largely characterized as stable in past years. “The [comptroller’s] figure is a LIPA estimate with assumptions for over a decade,” LIPA said. “The actual payments will depend on future electric market prices.”

LIPA said the zero emission credits are “among the least costly” zero-carbon resources available in the state, which has created a similar system of credits for offshore wind energy.

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