Indian Point and New York’s Energy Future

Last summer, the State Department of Environmental Conservation held public hearing on its proposal to shut down the Indian Point nuclear power plant (located in Buchanan, NY), for up to three months a year to protect fish in the Hudson River. Mind you, Indian Point provides about 30 percent of New York City’s annual power needs.

 

Many of the people testifying pointed out that any plan shutting down Indian Point during the hottest days of the summer defies logic.  Such a closure would likely cause major service disruptions and large increases in electricity rates that would affect everyone’s bottom lines.  It would result in higher electric rates for tenants living on fixed incomes and some elderly people might be forced to relocate to a nursing home or elsewhere. The loss of affordable and reliable electricity from Indian Point would have serious negative implications on Bronx, Westchester and New York City ratepayers.

 

Our technology-based economy needs reliable, low cost energy. Borough President Ruben Diaz won’t be able to attract new businesses and new jobs to the Bronx if businesses wonder whether their lights will stay on and if their computers will keep running. Homeowners, tenants and small businesses would be severely affected by an unreliable energy flow as well.

 

Indian Point is essential to ensuring electric reliability in New York State.  The plant supplies 2000 megawatts of “base-load” power to New York’s grid 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days of the year. Indian Point not only serves as one of the state’s largest power generators, but also as a de facto “pumping station” helping to more efficiently delivers power from northern areas to downstate New York.

 

The New York Independent System Operator has stated many times that Indian Point’s closure would drastically reduce grid reliability resulting in blackouts, brownouts, economic disruption, and serious safety issues. Additionally, NYISO’s 2013 draft Reliability Needs Assessment states that under stress conditions, the voltage performance on the energy grid without Indian Point would be degraded.

 

One of those stress conditions is a heat wave. In an era of unstable and increasingly unpredictable weather, extended heat waves are likely to occur. Power demands would spike to businesses and individuals compete to keep computers, machinery and themselves cool. Without the energy generated by Indian Point, rolling blackouts and heat-related deaths are inevitable.

 

The continued operation of Indian Point is also essential in New York’s effort to comply with the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan. Indian Point is a key component in New York’s ability to reduce carbon emissions from power plants by 30 per cent by the year 2030.

Carbon pollution coming from traditional fuel sources such as coal and gas directly contributes to climate change and is associated with asthma and other lung conditions.

  • Relicensing Indian Point Energy Center will contribute to a growing economy that produces jobs for those already in and just entering the workforce.
  • Relicensing Indian Point will result in reducing greenhouse gases, air pollution, and mitigating climate change.
  • Relicensing Indian Point will result in lowering asthma hospitalization rates and improving the health of Bronx children.

But New York will not realize a clean energy future unless Governor Cuomo rethinks his opposition to relicensing the nonpolluting Indian Point Energy Center. We need to state policies encouraging greater investments in wind, solar and alternative energy production.

 

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