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Clean Energy Primed to Replace Nuclear Power Plant

Energy

Natural Resources Defense Council

Riverkeeper

Indian Point Energy Center is a three-unit nuclear power plant station located in Buchanan, New York just south of Peekskill.

In just the last year, New York State began developing at least 25 percent of the alternative electricity sources necessary to replace the Indian Point nuclear power plant, according to a new report released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Riverkeeper. The report provides a detailed roadmap for fully and cost-effectively replacing the aging nuclear facility’s power with equal investments in  energy efficiency and renewable power sources alone, with no impact to the reliability of the region’s energy supply. The findings come just days before Nuclear Regulatory Commission relicensing hearings for Indian Point begin next week.

“Indian Point is an obsolete, dangerous nuclear plant that’s far outlived its usefulness and must be closed,” said Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., chief prosecuting attorney for Riverkeeper and senior attorney at NRDC. “It simply makes no sense to keep operating forty year old reactors that are vulnerable to fire, earthquake, outside attack and a host of other potential disasters less than thirty miles from New York City. What’s more, we don’t need Indian Point’s power: this report shows definitively that we can replace it with entirely clean sources like energy efficiency, solar and wind without affecting the reliability of the grid, and with minimal cost increases to consumers. New York is safer, more secure and simply better off without Indian Point.”

“In just the last year, New York State has already shown that it has the will and the ability to move forward with replacing Indian Point’s power,” said NRDC clean energy counsel Kit Kennedy. “When an earthquake, flooding or tornadoes—all of which we’ve seen in the area in recent years—could trigger a shutdown or even disaster at this aging plant, it’s clear we need to do something about it. We have better, safer options. New York should lead with bold new policies to ensure that energy efficiency, wind and solar power play the key role in replacing Indian Point’s power. This will keep New York energy secure, while making the state a clean energy leader. It’s common sense.”

The report, Indian Point Replacement Analysis—A Clean Energy Roadmap, was prepared by Synapse Energy Economics, Inc. and assesses clean energy resources in the state, as well as the policies necessary to implement them. This report follows a 2011 Synapse report commissioned by the groups that found there is a wide range of replacement energy options available in the state to reliably and cost-effectively replace Indian Point if its licenses are not renewed. This year’s report reaffirms those findings and follows up with a “how-to” policy guide, focusing solely on efficiency and renewable energy options.

Among its key findings, the analysis concludes that:

  • New York will maintain a surplus of energy capacity through 2020, even if Indian Point is retired.
  • A new transmission line under construction now and scheduled to come online next year—the 660 MW Hudson Transmission Project—will soon replace more than 25 percent of Indian Point’s 2,060 MW.
  • With the right policies in place, New York could rely on energy efficiency, wind and solar power resources alone to replace Indian Point’s power. The core of this report provides a detailed policy roadmap that describes how the state can secure this clean replacement power.
  • The portfolio of clean energy outlined in this report is expected to have a very small impact on consumer costs, adding an estimated 1 percent to energy bills in 2022—that’s one dollar a month for the average residential customer.

“Riverkeeper has led the fight to expose the risks posed by Indian Point for over a decade, a campaign that gained new urgency after the Fukushima nuclear disaster,” said Paul Gallay, president and Hudson Riverkeeper. “This report lays out a roadmap for replacing Indian Point’s power with clean, sustainable energy sources, thereby ensuring that a future without this dangerous nuclear plant is not only desirable but eminently achievable.”

The state already has a number of significant efficiency and renewable projects in the works that can help replace the nuclear plant. This includes efforts like the New York Sun Initiative, which aims to quadruple the amount of customer-sited solar power installed annually statewide by 2013, and the Energy Highway Initiative, which relies in part on renewable and efficiency projects to modernize state’s energy system.

The report’s policy roadmap shows how the state can build on these efforts to fully replace Indian Point with energy efficiency and renewable energy. Recommendations include:

  • Updating the state’s energy efficiency goals to capture all cost-effective efficiency opportunities in order to achieve a minimum electricity savings of 1.5 percent per year.
  • Faster implementation and stronger enforcement of the state’s energy efficiency building code for new and renovated buildings.
  • Expanding the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard to ensure that renewable energy provides 30 percent of energy statewide by 2016, and increasing that goal by 1 percent each year thereafter.
  • Extending the New York Sun initiative legislatively to run for 10 years with the goal of installing 2,200 MW of solar projects in New York State.
  • Establishing a goal of achieving 5,000 MW of offshore wind projects in waters off or near New York state, and backing it up with siting and long-term financing support for offshore wind.

These findings come just days before the NRC’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board kicks off a series of evidentiary hearings, starting Oct. 15, on the proposed relicensing of the Indian Point plant. The State of New York and Riverkeeper are leading the formal challenge to the relicensing of Indian Point.  

A related past NRDC analysis, also issued last fall, underscored the need to replace the aging nuclear plant in New York City’s backyard by outlining the costs and consequences of an accident there. It revealed that an accident of a similar scale to the Fukushima disaster in just one of Indian Point’s reactors could cause a catastrophe of far greater scale and cost—and it wouldn’t take a tsunami to trigger it. More common occurrences like thunderstorms, flooding or tornados could cause trouble. The result could be a fallout plume reaching south to the New York City metropolitan area, require the sheltering or evacuation of millions of people, and cost 10 to 100 times more than Fukushima's disaster.

Visit EcoWatch’s NUCLEAR page for more related news on this topic.

 

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