By Scott DiSavino
March 14 New York utility regulators on Thursday
approved a proposal to seek 1,350 megawatts (MW) of generation
or transmission later in March to keep the power grid reliable
in case Entergy Corp's Indian Point nuclear power plant
The New York Public Service Commission (PSC) staff said that
if the 2,037-MW plant shuts in 2015 when its last reactor
operating license expires, the additional power would be needed
by the summer of 2016.
One megawatt can power about 1,000 homes.
The PSC said it was not taking a position on whether Indian
Point, which produces about a quarter of the power used in New
York City, should shut down.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo wants the two reactors at
Indian Point to shut when their operating licenses expire in
2013 and 2015 in part because the plant is within the heavily
populated New York metropolitan area, which is home to about 20
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), which
regulates the country's nuclear power plants, has said Indian
Point is safe.
Entergy is seeking new 20-year operating licenses from the
NRC for the Indian Point reactors.
The NRC is not expected to decide on the license renewals
for at least a few years, in part because it will take the
agency a lot of time to hear arguments by mostly environmental
groups and the state against the plant's continued operation.
"No one can predict how this will transpire," PSC Chairman
Garry Brown said during the meeting, noting, "If Indian Point is
closed in 2015, we will have reliability concerns."
The proposal the commissioners approved included a so-called
"halting mechanism" that will allow the commission to stop or
delay a project if Indian Point continues to operate and the
additional power is no longer needed.
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, which left millions of New
Yorkers without power, the PSC in November ordered New York
power company Consolidated Edison Inc to work with the
state-owned New York Power Authority (NYPA) to develop
contingency plans in case the Indian Point nuclear plant shuts.
Con Edison and NYPA filed their plan with the PSC in early
February. The plan recommended that Con Edison and NYPA upgrade
three transmission lines and the need for 1,450 MW of generation
or transmission resources. The PSC on Thursday took up the need
for the generation or transmission resources.
Con Edison said the transmission projects would cost about
The PSC staff determined that 100 MW of resources could come
from energy efficiency efforts and therefore reduced the amount
of generation or transmission needed to 1,350 MW from Con Edison
and NYPA's proposed 1,450 MW.
If the request for proposals to supply the 1,350 MW of
generation or transmission goes forward in March, the PSC staff
said bids could be due in May, allowing the staff to make final
recommendations to the commissioners by about September.
Several energy companies have already proposed power plants
and transmission lines that could partially replace Indian
Point, including units of NRG Energy Inc, Brookfield
Asset Management Inc, BP Plc, Calpine Corp
and Iberdrola SA.
Entergy has criticized the plan, saying the alternatives
would not replace the economic value of Indian Point or the air
quality benefits it provides.
"Rather than asking New York customers to pay hundreds of
millions of dollars for a contingency plan that might not be
needed, New York could support the license renewal effort for
Indian Point now pending at the NRC to help ensure that this
safe, clean, and reliable resource remains part of New York's
energy portfolio," said Entergy spokesman Jim Steets.
Separately, the PSC staff said they expected to return to
the commissioners in April with a recommendation on Con Edison
and NYPA's proposal to upgrade the three transmission lines,
which are located in the Ramapo area just north of New Jersey,
on Staten Island and in upstate New York.