NEW YORK New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is confident the state can replace the power generated by the giant Indian Point nuclear plant, but offered no details during an online Town Hall chat with New Yorkers over the weekend.
Cuomo wants the 2,065-megawatt nuclear plant, located on the Hudson River about 45 miles north of New York City in Westchester County, to shut when its two reactors' original 40-year operating licenses expire in 2013 and 2015.
Entergy, the second biggest nuclear power plant operator in the United States and Indian Point's owner, however, wants the reactors to continue running for another 20 years and has asked federal nuclear regulators for new operating licenses.
"There is no doubt that we need replacement power if we are to close Indian Point. There is also no doubt that we can find it," Cuomo said during the Town Hall chat.
Indian Point generates about 25 percent of the power used in New York City and Westchester. Each of the plant's two reactors is capable of powering about a million homes.
Officials at Entergy were not immediately available for comment.
The New York grid operator has already determined that shutting Indian Point would threaten the reliability of the city's power grid.
Entergy and New York power company Consolidated Edison and others have also warned power prices would rise without the low cost power Indian Point produces.
"We can retrofit old plants, we can site new plants, we can improve transmission lines. So if we want to find replacement power, we can," Cuomo said.
Last week, New Jersey based energy company NRG Energy told Reuters they want to repower a 600-MW old oil/natural gas-fired plant in Astoria, Queens with a new, efficient 1,040-MW gas plant that could be built in New York City in just a few years to replace part of the power currently generated at Indian Point.
NRG suggested the replacement of Indian Point would likely require the construction of new generation in New York City and the lower Hudson Valley, and additional power transmission lines in downstate New York.
"The replacement power issue is not a justification to keep Indian Point operating. And my point has always been safety first and the reward doesn't justify the risk," Cuomo said.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has consistently said that Indian Point is safe and the NRC staff has already determined the plant is safe to run for another 20 years.
It will however take years of hearings and expected appeals on all the contentions opposing the 20-year reactor license renewals before the commission can decide what to do about Entergy's license renewal request.
(Reporting by Scott DiSavino in New York; editing by Sofina Mirza-Reid)