Governor Cuomo Announces Successful Closure of Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant
Environmentalists Laud Governor Cuomo's Work to Responsibly Shut Down Dangerous Power Plant
April 29, 2021
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the aging and long-troubled Indian Point nuclear power plant on the eastern shore of the Hudson River in Westchester County will be closed, as planned, on Friday, April 30. The 2,000-megawatt nuclear power plant, located 24 miles north of New York City, had presented numerous threats to the safety of over 19 million people who live or work in the New York metropolitan area and its environmental health.
"Since my time as Attorney General, I have been deeply concerned with the safety of the Indian Point nuclear power facility. It does not belong on the Hudson River and in close proximity to the most densely populated area in the country," Governor Cuomo said. "After years of relentless work together with federal, state, and local officials, we found a path to safely and responsibly close Indian Point, ending the threat the plant has long-posed to an area that is vitally important to our state, the nation, and the world. This is a victory for the health and safety of New Yorkers, and moves us a big step closer to reaching our aggressive clean energy goals."
Over the years, Indian Point has suffered from safety and operational problems, including faulty baffle bolts that help secure the reactor vessels and various leaks and fires. Located in the Village of Buchanan in Westchester County, the Indian Point site includes three power reactors, two spent fuel pools, and various support facilities and infrastructure, generators, transformers, radioactive spent nuclear fuel, petroleum storage facilities, waste storage facilities, water intake and outflow facilities and structures, and piers. The densely populated surrounding region lacks viable evacuation routes in the event of a disaster, and the plant experienced more than 40 troubling safety and operational events and unit shutdowns since 2012.
New York State agencies have invested countless hours to ensure that the impact of the closure of the power plant on local communities would be mitigated to the fullest extent possible. The Indian Point Closure Task Force created by Governor Cuomo in 2017 worked with local governments to plan for a future without Indian Point and mitigate local tax and workforce impacts, and the state stands ready to continue assisting local governments in that effort. Governor Cuomo further called for the creation of a Decommissioning Oversight Board to advise on and assess how to protect the financial, environmental, and physical interests of the communities affected by decommissioning, including the interests of the current workforce as it relates to continuing the public safety of the surrounding communities.
The Public Service Commission is currently reviewing the sale of Indian Point from Entergy Corp. to a new owner, Holtec LLC. Earlier this month, Governor Cuomo announced this joint proposal with Holtec International and its subsidiaries to safely close the Indian Point nuclear power facility in the lower Hudson Valley. The agreement, negotiated by the State of New York, County of Westchester, local governments, Public Utility Law Project, Riverkeeper, Entergy (the owner of Indian Point), and Holtec, provides for a transfer of the nuclear power facility to Holtec to complete the decommissioning three times faster than estimated by Entergy, for a complete and safe decommissioning and site remediation.
Current Entergy employees are being offered jobs at other facilities, and the state continues working with affected workers to gain access to new jobs in the power and utility sector. Tax payments from plant owner Entergy will remain in place through 2021 and ramp down gradually following closure. In addition, the taxing jurisdictions will be eligible to receive seven years of financial assistance from the State's power plant cessation mitigation program administered by Empire State Development. Additionally, at the request of the Indian Point host communities and others earlier this year, the state Public Service Commission adopted a stable funding mechanism that provides a long-term funding source for the program to ensure greater program certainty.
Senator Peter Harckham said, "The closing of Indian Point will impact the region and its residents in many ways, and I am very thankful to all of the workers there who dedicated their blood, sweat and expertise into running the plant safely. We have been working collaboratively for a just transition that protects the plant's workers, the environment and public safety while maintaining tax revenue for the affected municipalities and local school district."
Assemblywoman Sandy Galef said, "The closure of Indian Point marks the end of an era. As we move from operation to decommissioning, I am confident that the interests of all New Yorkers will be looked after through rigorous oversight by our state agencies. Our Indian Point Closure Task Force has prepared us for this day, and a Decommissioning Oversight Board will ensure that safety and financial concerns are addressed by our state agencies into the future. We have provided tax support to the local communities and job assurances to Indian Point employees. With the full resources of the State of New York, we will ensure that Indian Point is safely decommissioned, and the site is returned to productive use."
John B. Howard, Chair of the Public Service Commission, said, "The Commission is pleased to have played a role in the successful shutdown of Indian Point. It has been a long effort, but well worth it in terms of the removal of the danger that the plant posed to New York State."
Doreen Harris, President & CEO, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) said, "New York State's electric grid is undergoing a transformative evolution in pursuit of the nation-leading goals of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. Our proactive planning around power plant closures has included developing a tremendous renewable energy project pipeline coupled with robust investments in energy efficiency to reduce system demand, supporting workers in transition and ensuring opportunities for adaptive and beneficial site reuse to assist local communities."
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "For more than a decade, New York State has worked to shut down Indian Point and today millions of New Yorkers living in this facility's shadow can breathe a sigh of relief. As we continue our transition to a safer and cleaner energy future for our state, we must prioritize public safety and environmental protection. I commend everyone who worked to close Indian Point and now we must ensure a thorough and rigorous cleanup of this site."
New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said, "This is yet another important benchmark in New York's evolution as a leader in the green economy. As we continue on this progressive path, the demand for a diverse and skilled green energy workforce grows greater every day. Over the past several years, NYSDOL has actively supported the workers at Indian Point in anticipation of this transition. We hosted several onsite workshops to provide job placement services to Indian Point employees. To date, 267 Entergy employees have attended one or more of these workshops. We also recently hosted a virtual career fair featuring 29 participating businesses and with 128 Indian Point employees attending. NYSDOL will continue to help connect New Yorkers to employment opportunities."
Indian Point's closure has been anticipated by state energy planners for more than a decade and the plant's continued operation was therefore not included in the State's long-term greenhouse gas emissions reduction plans. The planning for a future without Indian Point has been understood as a contingency for system planning well before the actual closure was announced.
In January of 2012, Governor Cuomo unveiled the Energy Highway initiative that called for strengthening our energy infrastructure and making plans for the replacement of older power plants, such as Indian Point. On Dec. 13, 2017, the New York Independent System Operator, or NYISO, the entity responsible for operating the state's bulk electricity grid, conducted a thorough, independent resource adequacy assessment of the shutdown, and determined that the closure of Indian Point did not result in any identified reliability needs. In addition, the Indian Point Contingency Plan made transmission upgrades and demand side improvements to ensure reliability.
New York State generators must continue to comply with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative's carbon cap, ensuring the region's emissions will continue to decline after Indian Point closes. New York is part of the regional cap and trade program, and the State will be staying under the emissions cap, which declines 30 percent between 2021 and 2030 over that time-period. Emissions, specifically CO2 emissions, have reduced consistently over time due to increased efficiency of the grid as a whole. This includes the addition of renewables, the retirement of less efficient generation, the installation of more efficient conventional generation, and more efficient energy usage. The long-term trajectory of reducing emissions remains on track.
State-supported additions of energy efficiency and renewable energy since 2011 make up more than the generation capacity at Indian Point. New York continues its nation-leading renewable energy buildout comprised of nearly 100 large-scale solar, land-based wind and offshore wind projects awarded by the State that will add nearly 11,000 megawatts of clean power to the grid - enough to power over five million homes - and builds on the more than 150,000 jobs in New York's clean energy sector. Once these projects are complete, combined with State's commitment to building out new green energy transmission infrastructure, more than half of New York's electric capacity will come from renewable sources, putting the state ahead of schedule toward reaching its goal of 70 percent renewable energy by 2030. Already, 730 megawatts of transmission improvements and energy efficiency are in-service via the Public Service Commission's Indian Point Contingency Plan, and more than 20 large-scale renewable energy projects will be under construction across New York State this year.
Over the past decade, the NY-Sun program has helped make New York a national leader in distributed solar development, and despite the pandemic, 2020 was a very productive year for solar installations. New York has experienced 1,800 percent growth in the distributed solar sector since 2011 and is well on its way to achieving its target of 6,000 megawatts by 2025. New York recently crossed the 2,500-megawatt mark for installed projects, which are bringing environmental and economic benefits from Long Island to Buffalo and has more than 2,000 MWs in the development pipeline. Further, energy efficiency and demand response have dramatically changed the energy system since planning began in earnest in 2011, showing that demand growth that was forecast at that time was largely, if not completely, eliminated.
For more information on New York State's clean energy progress, please visit the NYSERDA website.
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