BUCHANAN, New York --New York will be able to make up for lost electricity generation after the aging Indian Point nuclear power plant shuts down in 2021, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday, announcing a deal between state officials and plant-owner Entergy Corp. that will close the facility by 2021.
Sitting along the lower Hudson River about 30 miles north of New York City, Indian Point produces 2,000 megawatts of electrical power - an amount that the company says is the equivalent of a quarter of the power used in New York City and Westchester County. Cuomo has long called for the plant's closure, saying operating a nuclear plant so close to a major population center is a potential safety hazard.
"For 15 years, I have been deeply concerned by the continuing safety violations at Indian Point, especially given its location in the largest and most densely populated metropolitan region in the country," Cuomo said in a statement. "... The state is fully prepared to replace the power generated by the plant at a negligible cost to ratepayers."
It will take some time, however, to ramp up other energy sources to take the place of Indian Point, according to Entergy President Bill Mohl.
"Clearly right now they don't have the ability to replace the 2000 megawatts," he told The Associated Press. "Obviously they're going to need to add a substantial amount of capacity."
Transmission upgrades and efficiency measures equaling more than 700 megawatts are already in-service, Cuomo said, adding that other generation resources ready to come online by 2021 will help generate more than enough electrical power to replace Indian Point's capacity. In its announcement of the closure, Cuomo's administration wrote that "the plant's closure in 2021 will have little to no effect on New Yorkers' electricity bills."
The plant's two reactors went online in 1974 and 1976. Mohl said increasing operational costs combined with low natural gas prices have cut into revenues, and that Entergy was facing a hard choice on the plant even before negotiations with the state began.
"This decision was truly based on economics," he said. "We were going to have to make a decision regardless of the settlement with the state."
The agreement requires Entergy to make repairs and upgrades to Indian Point and its spent fuel storage system. It would give the state time to find an alternative source of electricity and allow the closure deadline to be delayed a few years if the state and Entergy agree.
In exchange, the state and the environmental group Riverkeeper agree to drop legal challenges and the state will support the plant's request for a new federal operating license.