Rift Widens Between Bloomberg, Cuomo on Indian Point Nuclear Plant

The disagreement between Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Michael Bloomberg over the future of the controversial Indian Point nuclear power station in upstate New York appears to be growing, as indicated by a draft study commissioned by the mayor's administration and obtained by WNYC.

A copy of the document — which examines the likely consequences of closing Indian Point — warns that developing a replacement for the facility "should be well underway now" if the reactors are to be shut down when their operating licenses expire in 2013 and 2015.

Cuomo is strongly opposed to re-licensing the plant. No replacement plants are currently under construction.

The report, prepared by Charles River Associates, also says New Yorkers' energy bills would rise because of the cost of building replacement power plants. The total cost of wholesale electricity would go up 5 to 10 percent, according to the report.

In a point-by-point rebuttal, the Cuomo administration took issue with the reports' methodology and conclusions. Cuomo believes the real increase in consumer electric bills would be in the 2.5 percent to 5 percent range.

"The wholesale increase is a misleading and inaccurate indicator of the actual retail cost impact," the statement said.

Bloomberg has voiced skepticism that New York City can do without the 2,000 megawatts in power — roughly a quarter of the city's energy consumption — that Indian Point provides.

But Robert Catell, an advisor to the governor, said new sources of energy could be brought online in a relatively short period of time.

Catell, recently appointed as a member of Cuomo's High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing Advisory Panel, said the answer would likely involve increasing transmission capacity, so more hydropower from Canada can be imported, and building new natural gas plants, similar to the recently-opened Caithness plant on Long Island, which was built in just over two years.

"It's operating very successfully at very high efficiencies and very low emissions, so I think to think about replacing Indian Point, gas fired combined-cycle would have to be at least one of the possibilities," said Catell, chairman of the Advanced Energy Research and Technology Center at SUNY-Stony Brook and former CEO of National Grid.

Catell added that a shutdown should not be permitted unless there is ready replacement capacity.