The 25 Percent Myth
*Lynn Sykes forwards this response by Roger Witherspoon, a journalist specializing in matters related to energy use and production, to Entergy’s assertion that Indian Point provides 25 percent of the electrical power consumed by New York City and Westchester County, and that closing the power plant would force the city to buy dirty energy produced by coal. The original document has been abridged by 10964 because of space*.
Entergy, the corporation that owns Indian Point, advertises that Indian Point provides 25% of the energy consumed by New York City and Westchester and that closing the nuclear facility would mean that the 2,060 megawatts the plant produces would have be replaced to prevent power shortages. In reality, closing Indian Point would have no impact at all on the Westchester/ New York City grid. Here is why: electricity from Indian Point has already been replaced by the free market.
Between 1998 and 2001, utilities were required by New York State to decide to be either transmission companies or generating companies. They could no longer be vertically integrated monopolies. ConEd chose to be a transmission company. It buys electricity from various vendors, and transmits all the electricity in our area.
The New York Power Authority (NYPA), a nonprofit agency that built and managed Indian Point 3 and Fitzpatrick, an upstate reactor, sold both plants to Entergy in 2001. NYPA provides low cost electricity to the airports, MTA, Metro North, public schools, street lights, and public housing throughout New York City and Westchester. NYPA generates electricity in its own hydro plants and buys from other vendors. Entergy sells electricity under contract and on the markets.
Initially, both ConEd and NYPA had contracts with Entergy for 100% of the output from the two reactors. Those 2,060 megawatts represented 16% of summer usage and 22% of the winter peak load. You will note, 25% percent would have required Indian Point to deliver 3,250 megawatts in the summer and 2,250 megawatts in the winter. It is impossible for Indian Point to provide either amount since their maximum combined production is 2,060 megawatts.
In 2007, when their contracts came up for renewal, neither ConEd nor NYPA wanted to get all of the output from Indian Point because there were better deals to be had from other generators. ConEd contracted for just 300 megawatts from Entergy and NYPA contracted for just 100 megawatts. In 2013, when the contracts again expired, ConEd renewed for 560 megawatts but NYPA did not renew for any. That means that since 2013, there has been NO electricity from Indian Point lighting up public housing, public schools, city halls, city streets, or landing lights at the airports, or powering the subways. So, if Indian Point closes, there will be NO impact felt by New York City or Westchester County.
The assertion that air pollution would increase should Indian Point close because nuclear energy would have to be replaced by gas or coal has been repeatedly raised. The New York State Coastal Management Act Consistency Determination (http://bit.ly/Kf8iOY) prepared by the Department of State makes its position very clear: closing Indian Point will have no effect whatsoever on air quality because its electricity has already been replaced by existing plants whose emissions are factored into the state’s air mix. Most of the new power coming in is transmitted along new transmission lines and does not come from new power plants. Grid operators now have many more ways to ensure that we have a stable and continuous supply of power. For more information, go to www.spoonsenergymatters.wordpress.com and read Turning Off Indian Point and Keeping the Subways Running.