Gas Speculators are Licking Their Chops in New York

With New York Governor reaffirming his opposition to Indian Point, natural gas speculators are lining up to position themselves to fill the enormous energy gap that would be left if the plant shuts down.

One such imagespeculator is a privately owned Swiss-based company, Advanced Power Services.  They have begun preliminary work to build a 1000 MW gas fired power plant in Dutchess County New York, about 40 miles north of Indian Point.  There was a front page article in the Poughkeepsie Journal today describing how shutting down the 2100 MW nuclear plant could help the local project gain traction.

News that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has issued his strongest statement yet in favor of closing the Indian Point nuclear power plant has improved the chances that a proposed plant in Dutchess County would be built.

I know something about Dutchess County, NY because I lived there for several years while working at Indian Point.  In reading the story, I wondered if the editors of the Poughkeepsie Journal gave one moments thought to the fact that many of the people who work at Indian Point live in Dutchess County?  There’s no mention in the article of the serious economic impact that would befall the county shold Indian Point be prematurely shut down.

Here’s a copy of the comment I posted on the online version of the article:

This article seems to imply there would be a silver lining for Dutchess County if Gov. Coumo has his way and shuts down Indian Point. In reality, trading Indian Point for a 1000 MW gas fired power plant is a terrible idea and would harm Dutchess County. A large number, probably at least 300 of the 1100 men and women who work at Indian Point live in Dutchess County. They earn good paychecks and spend most of it in the county. Most own homes and pay property and school taxes. Sure, the new plant would hire a few people, but nuclear plants pay WAY MORE than gas plants, and it takes ten times as many people to run a nuclear plant as a gas plant. The net effect would be a huge loss of jobs.

If Indian Point is shut down, hundreds of families will leave Dutchess County. As they go they will flood the already depressed real estate market with homes for sale. Do you remember the impact of the IBM layoffs of the 1990’s on housing prices? It took a decade for home prices to begin to recover.

Then there’s the impact on electricity rates. While natural gas is relatively inexpensive now, nuclear energy is still cheaper. More gas power and less nuclear energy will cause electricity rates to go up for the entire region. Also, there’s no guarantee that gas prices will stay low. As more demand is placed on gas supplies (like this proposed new 1000 MW gas burner), gas prices are likely to rise. Energy from Indian Point is some of the lowest cost electricity in the region, and the price is not subject to the ups and downs of a commodity like gas.

Finally, there’s the air pollution and greenhouse gas problem. Sure; gas burns cleaner than coal, but a gas power plant still pumps out millions of tons of CO2, smog producing chemicals, and toxins directly into the air we breath. Air in the Hudson Valley is already in bad shape. We can’t afford to allow another large polluter in the valley! Indian Point produces none of these airborne pollutants.

John Wheeler

This Week in Nuclear

Author: John Wheeler

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