A state task force wants the owner of the Indian Point nuclear power plant to sell off parts of its 240-acre property to a developer soon after the 2021 shutdown so neighboring communities can begin recouping lost tax revenue.
The recommendation is one of several included in the annual report of the Indian Point Closure Task Force issued Wednesday.
The task force was created by Gov. Andrew Cuomo around this time last year after Indian Point’s owner, Entergy, announced it would shut down a power plant that has been providing electricity for Westchester County and New York City for decades.
Among the task force’s other recommendations:
- Enlisting the Hudson Valley Regional Economic Development Council to set aside funds for attracting new development to the communities around Indian Point.
- Getting the state behind legislative efforts to compensate communities that have become home to spent nuclear fuel while the federal government continues to search for an underground repository.
- Urging Entergy to retain employees likely to lose their jobs once the power plant closes by finding them work in the dismantling process.
The 279-page annual report covers a number of issues that have been aired at public meetings in the Town of Cortlandt over the past year.
Entergy’s January 2017 decision to shut down, while not completely unexpected, left officials in nearby towns scrambling for answers as they contemplated a future without a power plant that has provided them with tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue every year.
The Hendrick Hudson School District alone stands to lose roughly $24 million a year, about a third of its budget. The Town of Cortlandt stands to lose $802,000 annually and the village of Buchanan about $2.7 million.
Hendrick Hudson schools superintendent Joseph Hochreiter welcomed the report’s recommendations.
“Any future business development on the Indian Point campus would help to mitigate future revenue loss,” Hochreiter said. “To that end, I applaud the state for providing the funding for a business development agency to do a lot of the footwork and deliver the recommendations that have been received over the last six weeks.”
Included in the report is a re-use study done by consultant D.L. English. That report found that three parcels of land on the Indian Point property – two of 50 acres and a third of 18 acres – could be redeveloped for residential, commercial and industrial use while the plant is being dismantled.
No final decisions
Entergy spokesman Jerry Nappi said a decommissioning plan has yet to be finalized and, as a result, it’s too soon to say whether portions of the property will be made available for redevelopment while the plant is being dismantled.
It’s expected thousands of spent fuel rods will remain at the site stored in cement dry casks for decades after the plant is closed.
“Until decommissioning planning is complete, Entergy will not make any final decisions about which parts of the site will be needed throughout the decommissioning project,” Nappi said.
Over the next 30 days, the task force will accept public comments on the report before sending a final version to Cuomo and state lawmakers.
In the meantime, the task force will continue its work identifying economic development opportunities that will help replace tax revenue that will be lost in the years after the shutdown.
In April, Cuomo, at the urging of state lawmakers who represent the towns around Indian Point, added another $24 million to a state fund designed to help communities impacted by the shutdown of a power plant.
The Electric Generation Facility Cessation Mitigation Program now has $56 million in available funding. Qualifying communities would receive the money over a seven-year period after a shutdown.
The task force also recommends that local communities benefit from a $15 million fund for community and environmental projects that is controlled by the state and Entergy. The money was set aside in the 2017 shutdown agreement.
The recommendation says criteria for financial awards “should encourage projects that have maximum benefit to the taxing jurisdictions affected by the plant’s closure,” according to the report.
But State Sen. Terrence Murphy (R-Yorktown) said the towns impacted by the closure deserve the entire $15 million.
“The $15 million shouldn’t just favor local towns, they should be the only ones getting anything,” Murphy said. “Cortlandt, specifically the villages of Verplanck and Buchanan, should get every cent of it. We’re not talking about shutting down a bakery here. The future of this region is at stake.”
By Thomas C. Zambito