Assembly Weighs Impact of Indian Point Nuclear Facility Closure

New York State Assembly members held a hearing Thursday examining the impact of the potential closure of Indian Point nuclear power plant and energy alternatives.

In 2013 and 2015, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission operation licenses for the plant’s two nuclear reactors will expire. Entergy Corporation, owner of the plant, has petitioned the NRC to operate the reactors for additional 20 years.

“Indian Point is critical to New York City and to Westchester County,” said Jerry Kremer, chairman of New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance. “It can’t be replaced. It’s clean power. There’s just no way this region can do without it.”

Kremer was one of a dozen witnesses, who pointed to the problem of replacing the 2,000 megawatts generated by Indian Point. Those, according to testimonies, represent about 30 percent of New York City’s demand.

“The shutdown of the Indian Point units would increase the price of electricity for consumer, would increase greenhouse gases and other air emissions in the region, and would impact local economy,” said Joseph Oates, Con Edison’s vice president of energy management.

Oates estimated that the Indian Point shutdown would result in annual bill increases of 5 to 10 percent for a typical Con Edison residential customer in New York City.

New facilities, such as the Cricket Valley Energy in Dover, N.Y., natural gas-fired plant, upgrades to the transmission system between upstate and downstate New York, and renewable sources of energy were also discussed at the hearing. It remained unclear, however, whether they could be developed in time to provide replacement power for Indian Point.

Shutdown proponents have found a strong supporter in Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has made his plans to close Indian Point clear on numerous occasions.

“This plant in this proximity to the city was never a good risk,” he said at a conference last year, following the earthquake in Japan and crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Indian Point is located in Buchanan,N.Y, about 24 miles north of the city, with one of its reactors near two fault lines. Calling it “Fukushima-on-the- Hudson,” about two dozen supporters of the shutdown gathered before the hearing, chanting and waving placards that read “Close Indian Point.”

“We just think it’s absolutely too dangerous,” said Tom Siracuse, vice chair of the Shut Down Indian Point Now coalition. “It can never be made safe enough. It should be shut down.”