Last Friday, April 30th, at 11:00 pm Eastern Daylight Time, marked the last day that the Indian Point Nuclear Plant produced the carbon-free reliable baseload electricity that has served New York so well for more than 58 years. Over the previous 13 months, the state of New York has lost enough power to meet 25% of New York City’s electricity needs comprising 80% of the carbon-free power generated in the nation’s largest metropolitan area. Indian Point was a reliable source of carbon-free energy and, given the Biden Administration’s stance on meeting aggressive carbon reduction targets, the wrong time to be taking it offline.
From day one, Energy Fairness has advocated for the need to invest in America’s nuclear power infrastructure to meet carbon emission targets. We’ve written numerous articles on the benefits of nuclear power, ranging from the relicensing of Turkey Point nuclear station in Florida to discussing France’s premature move from nuclear to renewables at the expense of affordability and reliability. We even sounded the alarm in 2017 “about what will fill the gap to keep the power on in New York City” once Indian Point closes.
As we’ve been writing about the integral role of nuclear in meeting global emission targets, we’ve been left scratching our heads about the path New York State has been following to achieve its emissions goals. In 2019, Governor Cuomo signed into law the Climate Protection and Community Protection Act, which commits New York state to the elimination of fossil fuels for power generation by 2040
So what will replace carbon-free reliable baseload power that flipped offline on April 30th? Not surprisingly, there aren’t enough roofs in Manhattan to generate ample solar energy to power the City. Even if there were, solar’s cost would be astronomically higher than the cost of inexpensive power produced by Indian Point. And even with the reduction in demand resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic, New York City won’t be able to cut its energy usage by 25%. If anything, the City is emerging from the pandemic stronger than ever, and electricity consumption will only rise.
New York grid operators are replacing the power resulting in the void left by the Indian Point shutdown with carbon-emitting natural gas facilities in a move that doesn’t surprise us. We have no problem with the role that natural gas plays in keeping energy affordable and reliable, but it can’t compete with the 0% carbon footprint of Indian Point.
As we said last year, Energy Fairness has never favored one fuel source over another. Whether it’s natural gas, coal, renewables, or nuclear all of these power sources have a role to play in meeting consumer demand for affordable and reliable energy. In setting a goal of 100% carbon-free power by 2040, we still can’t understand why Governor Cuomo would shut down Indian Point without a viable replacement. Quite simply, it’s a losing move that doesn’t make sense for consumers or the environment.