Cuomo confirms: Indian Point nuclear plant to close by 2021

by Ryan Deffenbaugh | January 9, 2017 12:36 pm

Indian Point Energy Center nuclear plant will close in 2021 as part of an agreement with the state and Entergy Corp., which included the Ossining-based environmental group Riverkeeper, Gov. Andrew Cuomo confirmed Monday.

News of the plant’s closure was first reported  Friday by The New York Times.

Indian Point. Photo by Bob Rozycki

Under the terms of the deal, Entergy Corp., Indian Point’s operators, will shut down its Unit 2 reactor by April 2020 and the Unit 3 reactor by April 2021.

Closing Indian Point has long been a priority for Cuomo. While the governor last year pushed for billions of dollars in state subsidies to help keep upstate nuclear plants afloat as part of the state’s Clean Energy Standard, he has maintained that Indian Point poses too great a risk considering its location near New York City.

“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 Monday. “I am proud to have secured this agreement with Entergy to responsibly close the facility 14 years ahead of schedule to protect the safety of all New Yorkers.” 

Indian Point has the capacity to generate about 2,000 megawatts and provides about 25 percent of New York City and Westchester’s electricity, according to estimates from Entergy. The plant’s supporters have long argued that energy costs in the region would spike if the nuclear plant closed.

Indian Point employs 1,050 people among its two reactors. The nuclear plant is also a major provider of taxes for the town of Cortlandt, village of Buchanan, Hendrick Hudson School District and the county. Cortlandt Town Supervisor Linda G. Puglisi released a statement Friday calling on the governor to create a panel to study the economic and environmental impacts of the plant’s closing.

Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino, Cuomo’s opponent in the 2014 gubernatorial election, said the county had not been part of any talks regarding the plant’s closure. He called that a “big problem” and said the consequences of its shutdown would be enormous.

“Closing Indian Point will wreak unwarranted economic chaos on the county of Westchester,” Astorino said in a statement Friday. “Safety is always our paramount concern, but residents should know that the (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) has repeatedly disagreed with Cuomo’s assessment that the plant is unsafe.”

Entergy, a New Orleans-based company with an office in White Plains, has been trying to renew the federal licenses for its two reactors since 2007, but has been challenged by state officials throughout the process.

The relicensing efforts were dealt a major blow in November, when New York’s highest court said the company was not exempt from a review by the New York Department of State to ensure the plant’s license renewal was consistent with the state’s coastal management program. Entergy had argued it wasn’t subject to the state’s coastal regulations, as the rules took effect after the reactors were already running. New York had refused to grant Indian Point a coastal consistency certification, which gives the plant authority to operate on the Hudson River.

Entergy representatives pointed to decreasing wholesale energy prices and increasing operating costs as the main driver of the company’s decision to close the plant.

“In addition, we foresee continuing costs for license renewal beyond the more than $200 million and 10 years we have already invested,” said Bill Mohl, president of Entergy Wholesale Commodities, in a statement.

Here are the terms of the deal, as released by the governor’s office Monday:

Riverkeeper, in a statement released Monday, called the deal a “landmark agreement.”

“This agreement provides what we’ve been fighting for for decades: a definite early closing date for Indian Point – our biggest existential threat in the region,” Riverkeeper President Paul Gallay said. “It’s a win for the safety of our communities, a win for the Hudson River and all the rich variety of life within it and a win for a clean, sustainable energy future.”

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