For Release — Monday, April 18, 2005
COUNCIL, IPPNY: NEW YORK NEEDS INDIAN POINT POWER; CLOSING OR RECONFIGURING THE PLANT WOULD BE TOO COSTLY, IMPRACTICAL
COUNCIL, IPPNY: NEW YORK NEEDS INDIAN POINT POWER; CLOSING OR
RECONFIGURING THE PLANT WOULD BE TOO COSTLY, IMPRACTICAL
ALBANYNew York State and New York City need the clean and inexpensive electricity generated by the Indian Point power plant in Westchester County, and taking the plant off line or converting it to another form of generation is neither practical nor affordable, The Business Council of New York State and the Independent Power Producers of New York State., Inc. (IPPNY) have told a national panel considering the future of the plant.
"Indian Point provides 20 to 30 percent of the power to the metropolitan New York region. This ‘base-load' plant is capable of providing 2,000 megawatts of electricity around the clock, 365 days a year," Daniel B. Walsh, president/CEO of The Business Council, and Gavin Donohue, president and CEO of the Independent Power Producers of New York State (IPPNY), said in an April 14 letter to James J. Zucchetto, director of the Board of Energy and Environmental Systems of the National Academic of Sciences (NAS).
"The power is relatively low-cost and produces electricity without emitting nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide or carbon dioxide as do other fossil fuel-generated plants. The air quality benefit is an important feature of this facility that should not be taken lightly in any examination of alternatives to the plant. In addition, the plant provides crucial voltage support to the electric grid."
Walsh and Donohue wrote to the NAS board because it has received federal funding to study the future of the plant at the direction of U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey (D-Westchester County). The letter focused mainly on the challenges New York State would face trying to replace the power that Indian Point provides to New Yorkers. Some advocates have recommended the decommissioning of the plant or converting it from a nuclear to plant to one that uses another fuel as a source of generation.
"Electricity consumers benefit when electric power supply is secure and stable," Walsh and Donohue wrote. "Diverse fuel resources for power generation reduce the chance that embargoes, strikes, transportation constraints, or acts of war or unrest will disrupt power production. Fuel diversity also reduces exposure to soaring costs of any single fuel."
The only realistic conversion option in New York would involve changing the plant to a natural gas-fueled facility, but that would require the siting of a pipeline at least as large as a similar one that state regulators have so far declined to approve, the letter notes.
"And committing such a large volume of gas to electricity would increase upward pressure on natural gas prices," the letter continued. "Even if all ran smoothly, it would take eight to 10 years to decommission this nuclear site and construct a natural gas facility."
New York already suffers from a dangerously thin energy supply. That's partly because developers in the post-ENRON financial climate have found it difficult to build major facilities. And it's partly because New York let its plant-siting law expire in 2002, complicating the process of winning approval to site new plants, the letter notes.
Because demand is growing and supply is not, New York has taken "dramatic steps" to address the need, including siting emergency generators in New York State and instituting peak-load reduction programs, the letter says.
"While these stopgap measures have helped avoid blackouts or brownouts, the key to alleviating shortages of power will continue to be the addition of base load generation capacity," the letter concluded.
"Consequently, we believe that given all the constraints on building new generation in New York, and the dire need for additional capacity in the region, whatever funds are available should be used to build new generation, and not to convert or replace existing generation that is reliable, safe, environmentally benign and relatively inexpensive."
The physical structure of the site has tremendous capabilities, designed to safeguard plant personnel and the community even under the most catastrophic scenarios. On-site security personnel maintain constant contact with local, county, state and federal security forces. Access to the property is restricted to identified personnel only, and the roadways are controlled by multiple barricades.