BUCHANAN, Westchester County — New power plants, more efficient transmission and energy conservation could replace Indian Point’s power. But not without increasing air pollution and consumer costs — and not without unprecedented leadership from state officials, the nation’s top scientific advisers determined.

The National Academies’ National Research Council’s report, “Alternatives to the Indian Point Energy Center for Meeting New York Electric Power Needs,” was made public Tuesday.

The report was requested by Congress to address public concern about safety at the plant following the Sept. 11,2001, terrorist attacks, when one of the planes that hit the World Trade Center flew over the nuclear complex.

Changes in place by 2013

The power could be replaced by 2013 and 2015, when the federal licenses to operate the Westchester County plant’s two active nuclear reactors expire. But it would require a long-term, integrated strategy that may include changes to state law and policies, including the Article X, power plant siting law.

The committee questioned whether there are enough financial incentives for companies to build new plants, given the price of energy and the complex plant siting and environmental protection laws in New York.

“There are no insurmountable technical barriers to replacing the energy lost by shutting down Indian Point, but we are less confident that government and financial mechanisms are in place to facilitate the timely implementation of alternatives,” said Lawrence T. Papay, chairman of the committee that wrote the report.

Even if the plants were decommissioned, the perceived safety risk would remain. Spent nuclear fuel would likely remain at the Buchanan site for years.

Indian Point’s 2,158 megawatts supply about a quarter of the New York City metro-area energy demand. By 2008, demand in that region is expected to increase by 500 megawatts — about the capacity of Dynegy’s Danskammer power plant in Newburgh.

Higher energy demand

By 2010, the region’s energy demand could increase by 1,200 megawatts or more. However, aggressive investments in existing and new programs to reduce energy demand — through conservation and other strategies —could reduce the load by almost that amount by 2010.

Jim Steets, spokesman for Indian Point, said the company agreed with the report’s conclusions.

“It’s kind of what we’ve been saying all along. Of course you can replace Indian Point. Conceivably, you can row a boat across the Atlantic Ocean, too,” Steets said. “To me, it illustrates why it’s so important why we continue to operate the plants responsibly.”

U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey, D-Westchester County, who is among the advocates calling for the plant’s closure, downplayed the challenge of replacing the plant.

“I’m pleased to announce today that this authoritative study is complete,” she said. “And the bottom line is this: we can meet the region’s increasing energy demands without Indian Point.”

To view the complete article, search the archives at the link below: