Legislative action in Albany last week may make it easier to shut down the controversial Indian Point nuclear power station north of New York City.
The bill, known as Article X, would greatly simplify the permissions process for new power plants.
If Indian Point is closed, new generators will have to be built to make up the 2,000 megawatts supplied by the nuclear facility's two reactors. Indian Point is estimated to meet about 20 percent of New York City's energy needs.
"It is one of the pieces of the puzzle that we needed quite frankly to address a transition away from Indian Point," said Phillip Musegaas, an attorney with environmental group Riverkeeper.
The Independent Power Producers of New York, an industry group, estimates it currently takes about seven years to build a new power plant because of all the regulatory hurdles. But under Article X, the approval process would be fast-tracked to just 12 months.
IPPNY, which sometimes spars with environmental groups, is supporting the measure.
The final decision about whether to extend the operating licenses for Indian Point rests with the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission.