The Indian Point nuclear power plant sits on the eastern shore of the Hudson River 35 miles north of New York City. On October 15, a three-judge panel hears evidence on whether the plant should operate for another 20 years. At issue is Indian Point’s ability to handle the challenges of aging, as well as its cost estimates for dealing with a meltdown. But what's really at stake is whether nuclear power has a future near the Big Apple.
The two operating reactors on the site produce roughly 17,000 gigawatt-hours of electricity each year. A new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council argues that this electricity could be replaced nearly for free. In fact, the report argues, New York State is already building a new transmission line that will bring in enough power to replace a quarter of the nuclear-generated electricity. But analyses by plant owner Entergy suggest the changeover would come with a hefty bill.
All parties agree that a shutdown would see an increased role for natural gas—meaning more carbon emissions, exacerbating climate change. Whatever the decision, a warmer future is coming—which means more energy demand to cool off summer in the city. Wouldn't it be nice if that power came without the promise of more heat?
[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]
* Clarification (10/17/12): It is not the NRDC's position that a shutdown of Indian Point nuclear power plant would necessarily require the addition of new natural gas power plants. In fact, their new report lays out a blueprint for how Indian Point's power could instead be replaced by a combination of energy efficiency and renewables at low cost. At the same time, the report does note that, in all likelihood, more natural gas power plants will be built in New York State over the next decade and contribute to the region's electricity supply.