The basic premise of this article is just plain wrong. If you ignore the headline and the first graph you will find the voices of different people from Riverkeeper and Pace laying out the facts and proving that Indian Point has been replaced. You will also find AREA represented without a notation that they are an Entergy front group. Replacement power is documented in a side bar and there is an interesting map. It is certainly more detailed than most articles and it is notable that those pushing for more gas have little to no facts to backup their assertion that additional generation will be needed. They just continue to say that 2,000 MW’s is coming off line it obviously needs to be replaced. NYISO is quoted, for the most part to good effect. Unfortunately they are misquoted in regard to the scenario they laid out for 2023 if the planned generation does not happen. The reporter quotes the report as saying that an additional 200 MW’s would be needed. the report says that it could be needed. An important distinction.
It is a pity that there was no a decent copy editor for this story. Paul’s name was spelled wrong and the initial for NYISO were scrambled several times.. These are not small quibbles. If you can’t get such basics right, what does that say about the rest of the story? There is no way to leave a comment or email the reporter. He is not listed on their staff list. The email that was listed as the last choice on the drop down menu firstname.lastname@example.org bounced back. Scroll all the way the down to the bottom of the front page and you will find a form for letters to the editor – limit 250 words. They really don’t want to hear from people. Perhaps it is different if you subscribe.
The title of its website touts the Indian Point nuclear power complex along the Hudson River as “safe, secure and vital.”
However, Indian Point is closing after more than 40 years, and New Yorkers will soon find out how vital it has been to keeping their lights on and whether alternate sources of power can satisfy their energy diet.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Louisiana-based Entergy, owner and operator of Indian Point, announced in January 2017 that the two nuclear reactors on-site would cease operations early — Unit 2 on April 30, 2020, and Unit 3 a year later.
The state now must replace 2,083 megawatts of power virtually free of carbon emissions — enough to supply about 2 million homes. Indian Point provides 25 percent of the power for New York City and Westchester and about 11 percent for the entire state.
“Our goal should be that Indian Point (closes) down and everybody yawns,” said Karl Rabago, executive director of the Energy and Climate Center at Pace University’s Elisabeth Haub School of Law.
Most environmentalists, power-plant operators and policymakers have expressed confidence that the emission-free power from Indian Point that will be lost in less than three years can be replaced with some combination of renewables like sunlight, wind and water; increased efficiency of electric fixtures and appliances; upgraded transmission lines and continued natural gas generation.
Environmentalists welcome the closing, but they don’t want Indian Point to be replaced by sources of energy that they say will mean dirtier air. They oppose the use of fracked natural gas, a “dirty” fossil fuel, to provide electricity. Their goal is a “Clean Energy Future” that depends 100 percent on renewables.
But natural gas is the state’s largest source of electricity, and its partisans argue that it is naive to believe that the electric grid can cope without it. New York’s Independent System Operator (NYISO), the nonprofit agency that manages the state’s electric grid, promotes renewables but also relies on natural gas plants to maintain a reliable supply of electricity.
Some observers say that New York isn’t moving quickly enough to prepare for the transition by planning new natural gas pipelines and generating plants. Arthur Kremer, a former assemblyman who chairs the New York Affordable Reliable Energy Alliance, predicted that the state will be “scrambling” for electric power.
“A day of reckoning is coming,” he said.
Plant proposals popping up all over
Cuomo has suggested that natural gas still may be needed as a bridge to more environmentally friendly sources of electricity. Environmentalists respond that the bridge has already been crossed, that the state, even without Indian Point, can depend on growing efficiency and surging renewables for all the electricity it needs.
“The lights will stay on when Indian Point closes,” said Hayley Carlock, director of environmental advocacy for Scenic Hudson. She added that “we can’t continue building new natural gas plants in 2018, 2022 or 2028.”
Yet proposals for such plants are proliferating in the region.
Competitive Power Ventures’ controversial 680-megawatt Wawayanda power plant has been selling electricity since Oct. 1. Across the Hudson in Dutchess County, an international company that develops and manages power plants hopes to complete construction on its 1,100-megawatt Cricket Valley Energy Center in Dover Plains by end of 2020.
The new owners of the gas-fired Danskammer Energy Center are seeking state approval to “repower” and modernize their antiquated power plant in the Town of Newburgh so it can produce more power, more often. It now operates less than 5 percent of the time. CEO William Reid said the company expects to run “significantly more” when Indian Point closes and more than 50 percent of the time when its modernization is complete.
The Danskammer review process has barely started, but environmentalists are already calling on Cuomo to reject the proposal. An August report by the Buffalo-based Public Accountability Initiative charged that the project “represents an attempt by billionaire investors closely tied to President Donald Trump” to turn a profit “while the local community suffers from worsened air quality, with consumers paying the cost of the plant’s electricity and profits in their bills.”
Opponents are also mobilizing to halt a smaller gas-fueled project — a 20-megawatt “peaker” generating station with storage batteries in the Town of Ulster designed to support the electric grid at times of high demand. Residents have questioned whether the proposal is permitted under town zoning and called for a temporary moratorium on power plant development.
Ulster County Executive Mike Hein complained in a June letter to state officials that the proposal “is seriously flawed in that it would bind future generations to unsustainable fossil fuel infrastructure with the accompanying negative environmental impacts.”
Hein added that the county doesn’t need the plant’s power, which he claimed would go to feed consumption in the New York metro area. In contrast, GlidePath argues that its project is a response to market “price signals” and NYSIO data, and there is a compelling need for its power in the seven-county Hudson Valley energy-planning region that includes Ulster.
Filling the vacuum of power
Subtracting Indian Point power from the state’s grid occurs against the backdrop of a Cuomo-administration push to boost the share of the state’s power generated by renewables — 28 percent in 2017 — to 50 percent or more by 2030, and to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 40 percent in the same time period.
According to the NYSIO’s latest roundup of power trends, issued in April, natural gas-fueled projects on the drawing board represent 1,795 megawatts, followed by solar, 783; dual fuel, 750; storage, 200; wind, 120; and all others, 19. Solar currently provides a tiny share of the region’s power, but it has been growing rapidly.
Investors considering power projects are eying the demand for electricity that will open up when Indian Point closes and the relatively inexpensive land that is available for their projects in the region. There is also a sweetener for new investment. The NYISO in 2014 established a new capacity zone in the Hudson Valley that provides financial incentives for investors who want to build power plants close to New York City, Long Island and the Hudson Valley, where 66 percent of the state’s electric energy is consumed. Those incentives have increased the bills of Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. ratepayers by 8 to 10 percent, according to company spokesman John Maserjian.
Cuomo has pledged that there will be ample replacement power available, with no increase in carbon emissions and at “negligible” cost to ratepayers — about 1 to 2 percent according to officials — when Indian Point is unplugged. With the CPV, Cricket Valley and an expanded Bayonne, N.J., Energy Center in the mix (a projected total of around 1,900 megawatts), the NYISO expressed confidence in a December 2017 report that it could meet its reliability goals between Nov. 13 of this year and Nov. 13, 2023, two years after the closing of Indian Point.
NYISO also assessed for “informational” purposes what would happen if CPV, Cricket Valley and Bayonne are not available for the entire decade. It calculated that 200 more megawatts would be required by 2023. Additional resources of 400 to 600 megawatts a year would be required by 2027.
“In the absence of the expected new generation plants currently under construction, resource needs … would need to be met by one or more types of solutions, including generation, transmission, energy efficiency, and demand-response measures,” the report says.
Do we need to keep using natural gas?
In a more extensive statewide reliability analysis adopted on Oct. 16, NYISO found no issues to impede the flow of electricity through 2028. But it said in a footnote that it would monitor the refusal of the state Department of Environmental Conservation to extend an important air-quality permit for CPV. The company is challenging the state’s action in court and was granted a stay that allows it to sell power until the court rules.
CPV must also contend with a request by Hudson Riverkeeper, Orange County and local state legislators to lift the company’s permits entirely after a former executive pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud for his involvement in a scandal in which a former Cuomo aide admitted to soliciting and accepting bribes. The company’s foes reject its explanation that it was misled by a rogue executive and its claim that its permits were not tainted by his activities.
“It’s a bad actor,” Riverkeeper president Paul Galley said of the CPV.
Galley said that the state doesn’t need CPV or the other two gas-fueled plants on which NYISO relies to supply replacement electricity for Indian Point.
“You don’t need that plant,” Galley said. “You don’t need carbon emissions. You don’t need pollution.”
Galley and others point out that the demand for electricity has been falling as efficiency ramps up. NYISO’s latest calculations for peak summer demand call for a reduction to 2,135 megawatts a year from 2,254 over the next 10 years in the Hudson Valley and to 11,404 from 11,514 in New York City.
Consultants from Synapse Energy Economics, in a report commissioned by Riverkeeper and the Natural Resources Defense Council, concluded in February 2017 that any gap between supply and demand for electricity could be closed by a more aggressive approach to efficiency that goes beyond that incorporated in Cuomo’s energy program, as has been done in other states.
Environmentalists are also enthusiastic about the proposed “Champlain Hudson Power Express,” a 1,000-megawatt underwater and underground transmission line that would carry surplus hydropower from Canada to Queens. But the 333-mile line would not be operational until at least 2023.
Power-plant developers say they support the use of renewables and gains in efficiency but insist that there won’t be enough alternative power available soon enough to compensate for the loss of Indian Point or to go beyond the Cuomo energy goals.
Thomas Rumsey, a senior vice president for CPV, wrote Galley in April that if New York meets Cuomo’s “ambitious” 50 percent goal, “the state will still need to rely on conventional generation to meet 50 percent of its demand for electricity, and such generation must be flexible in its operations to respond to the intermittent nature of renewable supply in order to maintain system reliability.”
Renewable sources of energy are “intermittent,” supporters of natural gas stress. The sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow. That is why the state has set aside money for the development of storage technology, a fact that GlidePath, the company behind the Ulster County proposal, is well aware of.
Gavin Donohue, president of the Independent Power Producers of New York, said that “aspirational” groups like Riverkeeper don’t really understand the electricity-supply system. “You’ve got to use natural gas,” as part of the system, said Donohue.
The groups that shun natural gas are “living in a fantasy world,” said Kremer.
Power-plant developers say that the generators being built today are more efficient and less polluting on an hourly basis than the decades-old plants they will replace. “I have a pretty good environmental story to tell,” said Danskammer’s Reid.
All things considered, New York is “making amazing progress on efficiency and renewables, but in 2017, gas was about 40 percent of our power,” Pace’s Rabago said. “So, by 2023, we won’t have enough reduction in load and increase in renewables to end up with no gas anywhere. I think a respectable challenge is to take out Indian Point and still make a reduction in gas use. ”
Nevertheless, the closing of Indian Point should inspire environmentalists and power-plant operators to marshal a real clean-energy campaign, he said.
“We’ve got to get beyond 50 percent,” he said.
By Jeff Storey