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Report For Enviro Groups: Indian Point Replacement Power Will Be Ready

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A report commissioned by two environmental groups shows that low-carbon options will be ready to replace the more than 2,000 megawatts of power lost by the closure of New York’s Indian Point nuclear power plant in four years. The report concludes compelling the state to adopt an energy efficiency framework would help.

When the announcement came January 9 that Buchanan-based Indian Point would close by 2021 per an agreement reached by parent company Entergy, New York state and Riverkeeper, one of the big questions raised was how will the power be replaced? Now, a “Clean Energy for New York” report commissioned by Riverkeeper and the Natural Resources Defense Council from Synapse Energy Economics shows the power can be replaced with a combination of resources and upgrades in a number of scenarios. Paul Gallay is president of Riverkeeper.

“We are already on our way to closing Indian Point without reliability issues, without price spikes and with virtually all of the replacement power needed coming from renewable sources or efficiency,” Gallay says.

However, says Gallay:

“New York can do even more. It can foster the higher levels of energy efficiency being seen in states like Massachusetts, California and Rhode Island, which would eliminate any need whatsoever renewable energy to replace Indian Point.”

NRDC Eastern Energy Director Jackson Morris says this means that New York needs to bolster its energy efficiency program.

“And so now it’s just really just a question of execution of core policies including the 50 percent by 2030 renewables program that was adopted last August by the Public Service Commission,” Morris says. “And then, in addition to that renewables program, which is one of the strongest ones in the nation, the energy efficiency programs in New York, we’re doing fairly well in energy efficiency but, in the case of energy efficiency, unlike the renewables program for 50 by ’30, we need additional action to kind of adopt an ambitious and leadership framework on energy efficiency to really drive the levels we know are cost effective and that we know can play a prominent role in ensuring the most cost effective and cleanest transition away from Indian Point over time.”

Manhattan Institute senior fellow Robert Bryce calls the report weak.

“The report ignores the reality of the rural backlash in New York state against onshore wind. It just acts like that doesn’t exist and that somehow the state is going to install, apparently, many thousands of new megawatts of wind projects,” Bryce says. “Second, the report ignores the reality of gas-fired electricity in New York. When you look at California and when you look at New England, in both cases, when nuclear plants were closed, the amount of natural gas-fired electricity increased and greenhouse gas emissions increased.”

As for gas-fired plants, the report’s lead author, Bob Fagan, says the analysis considers the CPV Valley Energy Center natural gas power plant under construction in Wawayanda, Orange County in its analysis but not the proposed Cricket Valley Energy Center in Dover, Dutchess County. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said at the time of the Indian Point closure announcement that up to 1,000 megawatts of power could come from the planned $2.2 billion Champlain Hudson Power Express project, which would bring hydropower from Canada to the New York metropolitan area. The NRDC’s Morris acknowledges the project is not a given.

“And that’s also why we modeled runs with and without it,” says Morris. “We’re not claiming that that’s a done deal and that it’s going to be running in service, but it’s certainly from a technical, engineering   and financing standpoint entirely feasible in around the 2022 timeframe.”

Speaking during a conference call Thursday, Morris says the report does not focus on the impact on energy bills, rather it looks at the wholesale side of the equation.

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