* NY Gov. wants Indian Point shut in 2013 and 2015
* Entergy wants to run reactors for another 20 years
* NRC to take years to decide on new reactor licenses
By Scott Disavino
NEW YORK, Oct 17 Two environmental groups said
on Monday the giant Indian Point nuclear power plant in New
York could be replaced with cleaner, safer energy sources.
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and
Riverkeeper said the region had surplus energy to replace the
2,065-megawatt Indian Point. The groups said the energy could
be tapped by running existing generators at modest additional
cost, with no impact to reliability of the electric supply
The group responsible for New York's power grid disagreed,
saying a shutdown of Indian Point could result in blackouts.
Indian Point is in Westchester County along the Hudson
River, about 45 miles north of midtown Manhattan. The plant,
which can power about 2 million homes, supplies about a quarter
of the power used in New York City and Westchester.
"We have a wealth of safer energy sources ready to go that
can fully replace the power from Indian Point. When we consider
the human and economic costs of a nuclear crisis in New York,
and the host of benefits from investing in clean energy, the
solution is common sense," NRDC President Frances Beinecke said
in a release.
Entergy , the second biggest nuclear power operator
in the United States and Indian Point's owner, wants to keep
running the plant for another 20 years and has filed with
federal regulators to renew its two reactors' operating
licenses before they expire in 2013 and 2015.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has said he wants Indian
Point shut when its licenses expire, due in part to concerns
for safety in having two nuclear reactors in the New York
metropolitan area, home to about 19 million people.
NRC SAYS INDIAN POINT SAFE
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff has
determined the two Indian Point reactors are safe to run for
another 20 years.
It will likely take years before the NRC commissioners
decide whether to renew the reactors' licenses. Before the
commissioners decide, the agency's judicial board must air the
concerns of opponents. Any decisions can also be appealed to
the agency or potentially to federal court.
The new report, prepared for the NRDC and Riverkeeper by
economic consulting firm Synapse Energy Economics, found that
even if the Indian Point units both closed by 2015, there would
be no need for new electric capacity until 2020.
The report identified several replacement power options
that could be implemented well before 2020, including about
1,500 MW in savings from new energy efficiency, nearly 600 MW
of renewable energy, 8,000 MW from new proposed transmission
lines and more than 1,000 MW from repowering old existing
natural gas plants in New York City.
The New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) has warned
the shutdown of Indian Point would leave the city vulnerable to
blackouts and other reliability problems.
"It is clear that alternatives to Indian Point's power
would result in serious environmental and economic consequences
for New York City and Westchester residents," Jerry Nappi, a
spokesman for Entergy, told Reuters.
New York's power company, Consolidated Edison , has
said the shutdown of Indian Point would boost the already high
cost of power in the Big Apple.
Power prices in New York are already among the highest in
the nation. The average retail price of power in New York is
about 15.5 cents per kilowatt hour versus 9.8 cents for the
national average, according to federal data.
The environmental groups estimated the shutdown of Indian
Point would only add about $1 to $5 per month to consumer's
monthly bills. Other studies however have found that power
costs in New York City and Westchester would rise much more if
Indian Point were shut.