The New York Times is reporting that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has reached an agreement with the owners of the controversial Indian Point nuclear power plant to shut it down and its environmental critics are wetting their pants. The fight against the plant has been ongoing for years. This is one of those be careful what you wish for scenarios. Close it down and replace it with what? The article only mentions vague possibilities.
The prospects for replacing that power are so far unclear, but potential options include hydropower from Quebec and power from wind farms already operating across New York, according to the person.
Wind? At present wind provides a tiny 2.6% of all NY State power. Also, it would take 4,000 onshore wind turbines to power just NYC and that would take up about 40 square miles, or about half the size of Yellowstone. Then you have to run new transmission lines which will have an environmental impact.
The Quebec hydropower option called the Champlain Hudson Power Express is an idea but that too is fraught with problems. The proposed transmission line from Quebec to NYC will run 333 miles, but cost is an issue and even the developers admit it will have to be subsidized by ratepayers since the cost of operating it will cost over $400 million/yr. This doesn’t even include the costs of construction. It cost the Port Authority $1 billion to run a seven-mile line from New Jersey to Manhattan.
New York City’s Department of Environmental Conservation, (DEC) did a study back in 2011 about the various impacts resulting from Indian Point’s closure. They found that the use of hydropower would result in an increase in carbon emissions of 15% statewide and of 5%-10% in NYC. And, the addition of thermal plants would be needed because even the Quebec hydropower wouldn’t be enough.
IPEC is able to provide approximately 2 GW of generation with no direct air emissions. Its retirement will cause a substantial increase in the air emissions from power plants. Our analysis indicates that both the City and State would see approximately a 15% increase in carbon emissions under most conventional replacement scenarios, with roughly a 7-8% increase in NOx emissions. NYC would see similar carbon emissions increases.
The state market would see wholesale cost increases of approximately $1.5 billion per year, or roughly a 10% increase under most scenarios. NYC consumers would pay approximately $300 million per year more for wholesale energy, or approximately a 5-10% increase.
The report also predicted that citywide reliability problems beginning within a year of the second reactor’s expiration.
Then you have the taxes and employment. The plant pays $75 million in state and local taxes and employs 1,000 contractors and 1,100 salaried employees and is the region’s major employer
As a former protester in the 70s, I have come around and feel nuclear power should be a major part of the mix. And major climate scientists like the Big Daddy of climate change activists, James Hansen formerly of NASA, support nuke power. I think they should upgrade Indian Point to state of the art rather than shut it down.
And speaking of Hansen, here’s his response to Bernie Sanders’ desire to close Indian Point:
Now, Bernie Sanders says he wants to shut down the plant. If that happened, it would be replaced in substantial part by fracked natural gas that would create the equivalent carbon emissions of adding roughly 1.4 million new cars to the road… For the sake of future generations who could be harmed by irreversible climate change, I urge New Yorkers to reject this fear mongering and uphold science against ideology.
In a press conference called [LIVE] Conférence presse de James Hansen à La Galerie by World Efficiency. in 2015, James Hansen, along with Tom Wigley, Kerry Emanuel, and Ken Caldeira spoke and took questions on the issue of nuclear power. All agreed that nuclear should be part of the mix.
Here’s a small clip from the presser posted on the site Atomic Insights by Rod Adams who notes “None of them agreed that a energy system using 100% renewable energy is a valid objective.”
Emmanuel, interestingly enough is a Republican. Both he and his wife suffered a barrage of threats from climate deniers in 2012 when he appeared at a climate panel in New Hampshire. His offense? Saying Republicans should take their heads outta their asses regarding climate change. As he told the DESMOG blog back then
“I don’t like it when ideology trumps reason, and I see that the Republicans are guilty of that in spades at the moment… I’ve been toying with the idea of officially switching to independent status,” he adds.
Oh and this is curious. Two years ago, Cuomo fought to reopen an upstate coal-burning energy plant.