The New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) this week ordered Con Ed and the New York Power Authority to come up with a plan to provide the necessary power from alternative sources to replace nuclear power generated by Indian Point in the event that the plant is shut down. Having experienced the devastating impacts of widespread power losses from Hurricane Sandy, the PSC’s order seems doubly warranted.
Indian Point’s reactors currently provide 2,060 megawatts of power or about 20-25% of the state’s energy needs. The PSC’s order comes in response to Governor Cuomo’s Energy Highway Task Force, which recently called for a contingency plan, given the re-licensing controversy over Indian Point. (See our previous coverage.)
According to an October report commissioned by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Riverkeeper, Indian Point’s power can be fully and cost-effectively replaced by investments in energy efficiency and renewable power sources alone, with no impact to the reliability of the region’s energy supply.
Among its key findings, the report concludes that New York can have a surplus of energy capacity through 2020, even if Indian Point is retired. One reason is that a new transmission line under construction now and scheduled to come online next year—the 660 MW Hudson Transmission Project—will soon replace about 25 percent of Indian Point’s power.
In addition, the state already has a number of significant efficiency and renewable projects in the works that can help replace the nuclear plant. This includes efforts like the New York Sun Initiative, which aims to quadruple the amount of customer-sited solar power installed annually statewide by 2013, and the Energy Highway Initiative, which relies in part on renewable and efficiency projects to modernize state’s energy system.
The clean energy alternatives specified by NRDC and Riverkeeper are expected to have a very small impact on consumer costs.