“ALBANY – The head of the state Public Service Commission assured state lawmakers at a budget hearing Monday that New York is prepared for the shuttering of Indian Point over the next four years.
Audrey Zibelman, the commission’s chairwoman, testified New York has been planning for years for the Westchester County nuclear plant’s eventual closure.
“In Indian Point, we planned for this,” Zibelman said. “And as a result of planning for this, we have solutions that are not going to cost ratepayers’ money.”
Entergy, the Buchanan plant’s owner, announced Jan. 6 an agreement with the state to shut down the plant by 2021 — with the first reactor to shutter in 2020.
The surprise announcement drew immediate concerns from local leaders about how the region would replace the plant’s power, whether it would lead to higher energy costs and if local governments would loss the significant property-tax revenue from the plant.
Sen. Terrence Murphy, R-Yorktown, whose district includes the plant, questioned whether New York can replace the 2,000 megawatts of power that Indian Point can produce — which is the equivalent of about 25 percent of the energy needs in New York City.
“Is there a plan? Because I haven’t heard anything about getting the 25 percent from Westchester, New York City. Where is this energy miraculously going to come from?” he asked Zibelman.
She said the Public Service Commission, which oversees the state’s energy needs, started in 2013 looking at alternative energy sources for Indian Point as Gov. Andrew Cuomo repeatedly vowed to close the facility.
As a result, it has a variety of projects in the pipeline to offset the plant’s closure — including a 1,000 megawatt Champlain Hudson Power Express to transmit hydropower from Canada into the region.
“It’s essentially the equivalent of taking 1,000 megawatts of hydro and putting it in the middle of New York City once it gets done,” Zibelman said.
The closure of Indian Point has drawn criticism in part because the state at the same time brokered a deal to bail out three upstate power plants.
Last August, the Public Service Commission approved the Clean Energy Standard plan that includes moving the state toward its goals of cutting emissions by 40 percent by 2030.
But the deal also included a multi-billion-dollar bailout for the power plants, all owned by Exelon Inc. that will cost the average homeowner about $2 a month on their energy bills starting this spring.
Zibelman said the plan dealt with the unforeseen troubles of the upstate plants to keep them operational.
“In contrast to an immediate closure of three nuclear plants that we weren’t counting on, a planned closure where the market has a chance to respond allows us to get there in a much more economically efficient way,” Zibelman said.”
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