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Indian Point Can Close with Little Impact, State Committee Says

State officials released findings last week that Indian Point could close with little impact on ratepayers and reliability

New York Assembly committees released preliminary findings of their Jan. 12 public hearing on the plans for the potential closure of (IPEC). The findings concluded that Indian Point could close without overburdening ratepayers or threatening reliability standards, according to a press release from the Committee on Energy and the Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions.

This could happen with proper planning and the success of proposed energy and efficiency projects over the next several years, which would provide “more than enough resources to close Indian Point,” the committee chairs said. They based findings on testimony and evidence demonstrated by several energy and environment organizations, Con Edison and by the Department of Public Service and City of New York, among others, at the Jan. 12 hearing.

 “We have the framework and the resources for a future without Indian Point.  It all comes down to the State developing a plan and putting it in motion,” said Assemblymember Kevin Cahill, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Energy.   

Indian Point officials and proponents disagree. IPEC Spokesman Jerry Nappi said that most speakers at the January hearing said “there would be challenges to replace Indian Point, but it is about what the consequences are.

"The result would be dirtier air, a higher cost of electricity and potential instability of the electrical grid.”

Nappi said that reports by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, Con Edison and New York State Independent System Operator (NYSISO) have proved that closing Indian Point would result in the negative consequences he noted. Nappi's colleague, IPEC spokesman Jim Steets addresses these points in his Huffington Post  blog  on Feb. 3.

The Assembly committees also cited information from Con Edison and NYS ISO, among several others. The Assembly committees included in their “key findings” that NYSISO testified that the state has more than an adequate level of generation capacity and upgrades to the existing transmission system could help facilitate windpower projects and renewables; that there are generation and transmission projects proposed that could add up to 2,000 megawatts of new power by 2015 and could bring up to 3,000 megawatts online by 2016; and that relieving congestion bottlenecks could free up more megawatts. Con Edison testified that there are options that can be considered for replacing IPEC’s electric compacting, and energy and voltage support. (Read the full list of “key findings” at the end of this article).

The New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance, an advocate for the relicensing of Indian Point, sent a press release including statements made by their chairman Jerry Kremer, who drew much different conclusions from the Jan. 12 hearing than did the committee chairs.

“I testified at the January 12 hearing and heard clear and compelling evidence throughout that day from the New York Independent System Operator, Con Edison, and Charles River Associates (an independent energy consulting firm) that the loss of Indian Point would have serious ramifications on the City’s electric costs and reliability,” Kremer states in the AREA release. Kremer is also a former Chairman of the New York Assembly Ways and Means Committee and author of the state’s power plant siting law, on his testimony to the Assembly committees at the public hearing. 

Kremer referred to the two chairs of the Energy and Corporations committees, Cahill and James Brennan, as known opponents of IPEC and said its closure would increase pollution, reliability and cost city residents billions.

“Furthermore, at a time when New York needs to woo billions of dollars in new investment, cannibalizing our energy infrastructure will have a chilling effect to those who make investment decisions,” Kremer said.

In their findings, the Assembly committees' chairs noted that Entergy, the owner of Indian Point, was asked in advance of the hearing to come prepared with records detailing the price and quantity of the power generated by the reactors, sales of that electricity both through the Independent System Operator (ISO) and other contracts and the costs associated with operating the facilities.  Entergy did not provide this information.

“Entergy’s lack of cooperation will require us to revisit the issue in the very near future,” Cahill said.

IPEC Spokesman Nappi said that the information requested was not provided because it is proprietary. "Electric generation is no longer regulated in NYS as a result of changes in the law made to encourage competition among generators and reduce costs for consumers.  As a result, in a competitive business it is important that providers of wholesale power, like Entergy, be protected from one another on financial matters that could potentially provide a competitive edge for some of the participants."

Indian Point Units 2 and 3 are up for re-licensing in 2013 and 2015, respectively. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said the plant's equipment can operate safely for next 20 years, Nappi said. The relicensing process will reach a point where contentions are heard by a separate branch of the NRC in the form of public hearings, to be held sometime this spring.

Assembly Committee's Preliminary Key Findings, as stated in their Jan. 31 Press Release:

  • The New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) testified that the State has more than an adequate level of generation capacity and upgrades to the existing transmission system would make better use of statewide generating resources, including renewables from windpower projects.
  • The NYISO also noted that there are a number of generation projects proposed in Southeast New York that could add up to 2,000 megawatts of new power by 2015 and several transmission projects that could bring up to 3,000 megawatts online by 2016.
  • According to the NYISO, relieving the historic congestion bottlenecks that impact the economic operation of New York’s electric system could free up over 1,500 megawatts from existing power plants.  The testimony specifically referenced constraints in the Central to East and Leeds to Pleasant Valley corridors.  
  • The New York City Master Electricity Plan, prepared by Charles River Associates, identified the Leeds to Pleasant Valley constraint as one of the most cost effective projects to meet the City’s electricity needs.
  • Consolidated Edison testified that there are a number of options that can be considered for replacing Indian Point’s electric capacity, energy and voltage support, including demand side management and energy conservation programs, new electric generating facilities or new electric transmission lines to import power from regions where there is a surplus.
  • The City of New York identified aggressive strategies to conserve electricity and develop clean distributed generation, including:
    • efforts to increase participation in demand side management programs;
    • streamline permitting for cogeneration projects;
    • utilization of high efficiency combined heat and power technology;
    • co-locating anaerobic digestors and photovoltaics at wastewater treatment facilities; and
    • participation in a 350 megawatt off-shore wind collaborative.
  • The Department of Public Service testified that in prior instances where generator retirements presented reliability risks, transmission solutions were the most cost effective options.

Read the Assembly Committees' full press release here.

Read The New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance's full press release here.

To read more about Indian Point on Patch click here.

Mark Mastrocinque February 08, 2012 at 12:07 PM
Is it really that easy to replace 2 billion watts?? I highly doubt it. The devil is in the details.
robin February 08, 2012 at 12:43 PM
Let's move forward and let the State start developing a plan . . . I'm fairly certain most of us would prefer that. Indian Point is a time bomb. Mark do you work for Indian Point?
Stewie February 08, 2012 at 04:08 PM
I'm with Mark! This smacks of optimistic engineering, which in its self is an oxymoron. And no, I don't work for Entergy, just an Engineer who can see through the BS. If you want this plant closed then build a new fossil power plant to takes its place..first!

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