A local task force already exists to discuss the job and revenue losses for the community when the nuclear plants close.
CORTLANDT, NY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is appointing a task force to provide guidance and support to local municipalities and employees affected by the closing of Indian Point, and to ensure compliance with the agreement between the plant’s owner, Entergy, the state, and environmental watchdog group Riverkeeper.
“The creation of this new task force will help ensure potential impacts on the local community will be minimized and that an open dialogue is maintained throughout this transition process,” Cuomo said in his announcement Tuesday.
Entergy’s decision to close the nuclear power plants by 2021 was primarily a business decision, the company said when the announcement was made Jan. 9. As part of the deal, the state and Riverkeeper agreed to withdraw all their legal filings.
Local officials have already created a Community Task Force to help the village, school district and town cope with the loss of a large percentage of their annual operating revenues, to talk about mitigating the impact of 1,000 lost jobs, to address the issue of stored spent fuel rods at the site, and other topics. It held its first meeting Feb. 16. The next day, representatives of several state agencies who will be on the State Task Force met with local officials.
“They and we agreed that the time to plan is NOW because three and four years go by quickly,” Cortlandt Town Supervisor Linda Puglisi said in a recent update to the community.
Cuomo’s announcement comes the same day that Puglisi, Hendrick Hudson School Superintendent Joseph Hochreiter and Buchanan Village Mayor Theresa Knickerbocker were scheduled to testify at a public hearing of the joint Assembly and Senate Energy Committee about their many concerns: the loss of $33 million dollars per year for all parties involved in the P.I.L.O.T. (Town of Cortlandt, Village of Buchanan, Hendrick Hudson School District, Westchester County, Hendrick Hudson Free Library, Verplanck Fire District), loss of many jobs, impact to local businesses, security and safety issues once closed due to the ongoing storage of the spent fuel rods at the site, and how the property will or can be used in the future.
According to the announcement, the state’s task force will monitor compliance with the closure agreement, coordinate ongoing safety inspections and review reliability and environmental concerns, among other issues.
The state task force will also partner with local governments to address employment and property tax impacts, develop new economic opportunities and work force retraining.
Replacing the power will not be a problem, the announcement said.
In the announcement he also said the state has extensively and proactively planned for the eventual closure of Indian Point by making sure more than enough replacement power is available to ensure reliability, mitigate electricity price impacts and achieve environmental objectives. Already, 730 megawatts of transmission improvements and energy efficiency are in-service via the Public Service Commission’s Indian Point Contingency Plan, and more generation resources are slated to come online in the near future.
Given the closure date of 2021, there is ample time for local governments to plan for a future without Indian Point and mitigate local tax and workforce impacts, and the state stands ready to assist local governments in that effort.
Tax payments from Entergy will remain in place through 2021 and ramp down gradually following closure.
In addition, Entergy has agreed to offer employees jobs at other facilities, and the state is committed to working with affected workers to gain access to new jobs in the power and utility sector and to provide training in renewables, like solar and wind, he said.
Agencies on the state’s task force will include the Department of Public Service, Department of Environmental Conservation, Department of Labor, Office of Real Property Services within the Department of Taxation and Finance, Empire State Development, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, Department of State, Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, Education Representatives, and the New York Power Authority.
The Task Force will include Senator Terrence Murphy; Assemblywoman Sandy Galef; Catherine Borgia, Majority Leader, Westchester County Board of Legislators; John G. Testa, Minority Leader, Westchester County Board of Legislators; Linda D. Puglisi, Supervisor, Town of Cortlandt; Joseph Hochreiter, Superintendent, Hendrick Hudson School District; Theresa Knickerbocker, Mayor, Village of Buchanan, and other local stakeholders and officials, as needed.
The New York State Department of Public Service will be responsible for convening the state task force.
Cuomo has argued for years that the aging 2,000 megawatt nuclear power plant, located 24 miles north of New York City, presented numerous threats to the safety of over 19 million people who live or work in the New York metropolitan area and its environmental health. In recent years the plant suffered from safety and operational problems, including faulty baffle bolts and various leaks and fires. The densely populated surrounding region lacks viable evacuation routes in the event of a disaster, and the plant experienced more than 40 troubling safety and operational events and unit shut downs since 2012.
Two upcoming local meetings on the topics around Indian Point’s closure that are open to the public are:
March 2: A public hearing at 6:30 p.m. at Local 21 Union Hall, 1024 McKinley St., convened by State Senator Terrence Murphy
March 16: Community Task Force, 7 p.m. at Cortlandt Town Hall
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