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 speculator 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...

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Government Experts Say There Are No Environmental Impacts That Would Prevent Indian Point Nuclear Plant From Operating for 20 More Years.

Download the MP3 File Here The environment would remain safe if Indian Point nuclear plant operates for another 20 years. That’s the opinion of a team of scientists and engineers on the staff of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Operating licenses for the two reactors at Indian Point nuclear plant in New York will expire in 2013 and 2015. Entergy, the plant’s owner has applied for a license renewal to allow the plants to operate for an additional 20 years.  A major portion of the application is this detailed study of the environmental impact of allowing the plant to continue operation. This analysis has been underway for almost two years, and included analyzing public comments and issues raised by New York State and groups opposed to the plant. On December 3, 2010 the staff of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission released the results of their assessment which concluded there are “no environmental impacts that would preclude license renewal for an additional 20 years of operation.” License renewals are routine.  In fact, last week the NRC issued the 60th such license renewal for a US commercial nuclear plant.  That one went to the Cooper Nuclear Station in Nebraska.  Indian Point’s environmental impact analysis is probably the most thorough ever done by the NRC.  It usually takes between 6 and 12 months for the NRC to collect public comments and conduct their environmental review.  In contract, Indian Point’s review took two years to complete.    It is a monstrous document; the report is more than 2,200 pages long compared to an average of 480 pages at other plants.  It’s worth noting that the plant’s owner pays the Federal Government more than $200 for every hour the NRC staff spent on the environmental analysis. So what’s unique about Indian Point that might require such an extensive review of the environmental impact? In short, it has nothing to do with the natural environment, and everything to do with the political environment in which the plant operates.  There is a very high profile and well funded anti-nuclear campaign being waged against Indian Point by organizations like Riverkeeper, the Radiation and Public Health Project, and the Natural Resources Defense Council. These organizations and others like them have taken advantage of the transparency of the license renewal process to intervene at every opportunity in an effort to slow or block the process. On one hand they claim nuclear plants are too expensive, yet they work hard to further raise the costs. For example, they claimed the plant is in violation of the US Endangered Species Act because the endangered shortnose sturgeon eggs and hatchlings are entrained in...

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NY State Gives Fossil Fuels Favored Treatment

Podcast – Download Audio File Here This is a follow up to the podcast titled “Water Wars in New York” on May 27, 2010 in which I discussed how NY State is using their authority to issue Water Quality Certificates to wage war against the Indian Point Nuclear Plant.  In case you missed that show, New York is holding the plant’s 20 year  license renewal hostage by refusing to issue a Certificate of Water Quality unless the plant agrees to install expensive cooling towers.  The plant has argued that the cost of cooling towers, approximately $2 Billion, is excessive and disproportionate to the environmental benefit that would be derived.  In fact, the plant has identified an alternate technology that would provide greater environmental benefits at about one-tenth of the cost of installing cooling towers. Thus far those arguments have fallen on deaf ears. In my further research on this topic I discovered a damning piece of evidence that proves NY State is giving preferential treatment to fossil fuels while at the same time imposing unfair regulations on neighboring nuclear energy facilities, the largest competitors to fossil fuels. There are several other large power plants on the Hudson River that generate electricity by burning coal, oil, and natural gas.  All of those plants, like Indian Point, use the Hudson River for cooling.  One of the plants, the Bowline plant, is in Haverstraw, NY only about five miles across the river and downstream from Indian Point.  Bowline is a two unit gas and oil fired power plant with a combined output of 1,182 MW (slightly larger than each Indian Point nuclear unit). There are many similarities between Bowline and Indian Point: Bowline, like Indian Point, is required to maintain a NY State water permit.  Bowline, also like Indian Point, evaluated several alternative technologies to reduce fish and fish larva mortality. The Bowline analysis reached similar conclusions to the one performed by Indian Point; they concluded that converting to a closed cooling water system using cooling towers would provide the greatest reduction in fish mortality, but at a very high cost.  Instead, the Bowline plant offered to use a combination of technologies that would provide 80% to 95% percent of the benefit that would be derived from the vastly more expensive cooling towers, but at 1/30th of the cost. That’s where the similarities end.  In the case of the Bowline oil and gas plant, the New York State Department of Environmental Conversation accepted the lower cost alternatives to installing cooling towers.  On the topic of cooling towers, in a letter from Denise Sheehan, the DEC Commissioner they stated; The estimated cost of retrofitting...

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