Setting the record straight on Indian Point
While anti-Indian Point groups are claiming victory over the closing of the nuclear plant, the truth is that these groups have seldom let the facts get in their way.
For now, the good news is that the plant will continue to operate until 2021. After that, New Yorkers will unfortunately lose many of the environmental and economic benefits on which we had come to rely.
Indian Point has been the backbone of New York’s bulk electric system for over 40 years. It provides a lot of power – 2,000 megawatts of clean, non-emitting, highly reliable 24/7 baseload power – that accounts for 25 percent of the electricity used in New York City and the surrounding region.
The plant is and has always been categorically safe. It often receives the highest annual safety ratings from the independent U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, whose staff recommended a 20-year license renewal for the facility. And Indian Point’s owner, Entergy, has invested over $1 billion in plant and equipment to make it a modern, world-class facility.
Indian Point’s safety and reliability are a testament to the talent and dedication of the 1,000 highly-skilled workers at the plant. Indian Point provides good paying, middle-class jobs that support families and communities. In fact, the broader economic impact of Indian Point accounts for 5,300 New York jobs and $1.6 billion in annual state economic activity.
Indian Point has also helped to sustain communities all around the Hudson Valley. The plant contributes $30 million in annual state and local property taxes. Many charities have been buoyed by Entergy’s significant community contributions. And Entergy’s employees contribute thousands of hours of time each year to dozens of charitable organizations.
Contrary to former Assemblyman Richard Brodsky’s claims in his City & State op-ed, “Powering Down: An end to the long battle against Indian Point,” it was not pressure from anti-nuclear activists that led to the plant’s premature closing. The primary reason for the plant’s early shutdown is the historically low price of natural gas, which sets the price mark for bulk electric power.
Under most realistic replacement scenarios, natural gas will largely be used in place of Indian Point’s carbon-free power. A 2015 study by the Nuclear Energy Institute found that Indian Point prevents the release of 8.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually. Closing the plant will be like adding 1.6 million cars to New York’s roads.
We look forward to the details of whatever plan New York state is able to cobble together to replace Indian Point and hope it is not a giant step backwards in reducing emissions and spurring economic growth.
Simply put, the challenges are enormous. Given what's at stake there is no time for self-congratulation or braggadocio. Rather, the hard work of policy, planning and execution must begin in earnest.
Arthur “Jerry” Kremer served in the New York State Assembly from 1966 to 1988, eventually becoming chairman of the Ways & Means Committee,. He now serves as chairman of the New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance (New York AREA), a diverse organization of more than 150 business, labor, and community leaders and organizations. Entergy, the owner of Indian Point, is a member of New York AREA.