Over the next 13 months, the state of New York will lose 2,060 MW of emission-free, reliable power. By the end of this month, Unit 2 at the Indian Point nuclear power plant in Westchester County will close, removing 1,080 MW of clean power from the state’s energy mix, followed by the same amount at the end of May 2021. That’s enough power to meet 25% of New York City’s electricity needs and comprises 80% of the carbon-free energy in the city’s metropolitan region. Indian Point is a reliable source of carbon-free power and now is 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’ve testified before the Georgia Public Service Commission in support of Units 3 and 4 at Plant Vogtle.
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. Last year, 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.
Ironically, at a time when New York is aggressively seeking to reduce its carbon footprint, it’s turning its back on one of its greatest weapons in the fight. With the flick of a switch on April 30th, New York will take offline a power source that displaces 3.5 million metric tons of carbon. The same will happen next Spring with the closure of Unit 3 at Indian Point.
Former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg recognized the potential calamity of closing Indian Point in a 2013 report, stating, “phase-out of nuclear energy with natural gas-fired generation is estimated to increase New York City’s greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 15%.”
To compensate, New York will resort to even more natural gas. It continues a trend the state has followed since 2010. Over the past decade, the state’s use of natural gas and oil for electric power production has increased nearly four-fold.
But, in another ironic twist, at the same time New York has ratcheted up its dependence on natural gas, the state – led by Governor Cuomo – has blocked the addition of critical natural gas pipelines to meet the need for increased capacity, a fact we highlighted in the Westchester Business Journal in April 2019.
Energy Fairness has never favored one fuel source over another. We believe that coal, nuclear, natural gas, and renewables all have a role to play in meeting customer demand for affordable and reliable energy and helping our nation meet environmental goals. What we can’t understand is why – in setting aggressive carbon emission targets – any sensible leader would shutdown a reliable source of carbon emission-free power with no viable source to fill that void. That’s exactly what closing Indian Point does and that’s why it’s a losing move for both customers and the environment.