I have found that generally speaking the business point of view is about a decade behind research and what experts in the field are saying.  Neither do they normally take into consideration high level radioactive waste disposal, the cost to water bodies on which the reactors are located, decommissioning at the end of the life cycle or the horrors of uranium mining that begin the cycle.  Perhaps that is because these costs are externalized and do not appear on a balance sheet that determines dividends to shareholders.

There are several industry talking points I would like to address.  The first being how much electricity Indian Point contributes to the Westchester/NYC grid.

Con Ed and NYPA are the two companies that serve our grid, with ConEd providing all of the transmission. Repeat: all of the electricity used in our section of the grid is transmitted by Consolidated Edison. 

New York Power Authority generates about 1,000 MW’s and purchases about another 1,000 MW’s which it sells to schools, municipalities and some others. It is all transmitted by Con Ed.  NYPA operates on long term contracts and sells the hydro power it generates from its upstate dams.  As shown in public records NYPA stopped buying electricity from Entergy at the end of 2012.  

In May of 2018 Con Ed let its contract for 500 MW’s with Entergy expire.  It does have one generating station in Astoria Queens -which just blew a transformer. While most of the electricity it buys is from long term contracts, it is possible that Con Ed may purchase a small amount of electricity in the daily spot market auction which could include something from Indian Point. I have not been able to find reliable stats on this.  

Entergy bid into the Mid Hudson Capacity Market for 1,500 MW’s for the 5-month summer season. Newspaper accounts indicate that the left over 500 MW’s were sold in the New England market. Again, it is very hard to verify stats on this as the information is proprietary. In an interview ConEd asserted that they did not buy any electricity from Entergy. 

It is absolutely immaterial that some of the electrons in our system may or may not have  been generated at Indian Point.

Here is an anology that might be clarifying.  

My employer makes a deposit in my bank account on a regular basis.  I can be anywhere in the world and make a withdrawal.  I do not withdraw the same bills, nor does it matter. That is just not the way the accounting system works.  I get a statement at the end of the month and everything gets reconciled. What happened to the original money/credit, that was added to my account, where it went, is of no consequence as long as the books balance.

It is the same with electricity generated at Indian Point.  It is not bought and sold in our grid on a long term contract basis because it is too expensive to compete.  Con Ed does not carry it for distribution in NYC or Westchester.  What Indian Point currently supplies to our grid on a regular daily basis is zero.  NYSIO keeps the books and makes sure everything balances out in the end just like the bank does with deposits and withdrawals with your paycheck.

Therefore, the question arises – if you are talking about replacement – what is it that you are replacing?

Users in other grids or in a different sector of our grid have over 300 different generators in the State of New York to choose from. Using state capacity figures to address a local problem is not valid.  NYISO looks after the entire NY grid. Other grids have their own equivalent of our NYISO.  None of them seem worried about a supply shortage.

As Amory Lovins suggested long ago the best way to look at something like this is through usage.  First determine how much you need for what purposes and then backfill. Figure out what you can do without generation first: efficiency, conservation, demand response.  Look to transmission improvements.  See how rooftop solar fits in with net metering. How does wind factor in and how would this electricity be transported?  Geothermal?  Wave and tidal?  Imports? What’s left?  Probably not much since usage is expected to decline.  

What you end up with is distributed generation and a much stronger system. Fortunately, some of this has already been done.  Yes, the mix does include two gas plants which is really unfortunate.  The methane from both plants has already been accounted for in the NYS Energy Plan.

It is a pity that some politicians, newspapers, and opportunists are pushing the false but reasonable sounding notion that replacement power is needed.  If that were the case Entergy would not be closing Indian Point.

I look forward to responses from Phil, Lindsey and others as part of this discussion.

Marilyn Elie

The issue isn’t about specific MW or facility “replacement” any more than the transformation from reliance upon kerosene lamps to turbine generation of electric power from water or steam was about specific unit substitution. And, incidentally, it took the public some years to grasp the concept of invisible power surging through cables.  

What we need by 2020 is the kind of energy revolution that occurred a century ago, when the nation shifted from predominant reliance upon gas lights to electricity.  In 1905, only 3% of American homes had electricity. By around 2020, electricity had become the standard for home lighting.

A dramatic transformation of the energy economy is not only feasible, we’ve done it before.  

What is urgent, we all agree, is transition away from very heavy reliance on fossil and other dirty fuels.  In sharp contrast to nuclear, efficiency, renewable and storage  technological innovations are rapidly increasing and costs are decreasing, year after year. At this point it is principally policy (promoted by nuclear-fossil interests) that obstructs a rapid transformation. As for NY, its support for efficiency/renewable over the past decade is best described by the Texas phrase: “Big hat, no cattle.”

It deserves emphasis that in NY, as elsewhere, what is relevant is policy, because policy drives the market. If the policy is to fork over $7.6 billion to the nuclear-fossil behemoth Exelon, and actually prevent cheaper renewable from competing with nuclear for over a decade (as the PSC had mandated), what signal do folks think was sent to the energy market?  And, for the NY Metro region, if NY State does little to promote efficiency and renewable, what stops gas use, especially with federal policy vigorously promoting drilling?

Please remember that, while sold as a commodity, electricity is a force, and electrons are transmitted through vast power grids. The Eastern Interconnection includes the eastern two-thirds of the continental US and Canada from the Great Plains to the Eastern seaboard. Power demand fluctuates through the day and across regions and grid operators act to maintain balance of load and demand. That is why nuclear is especially ill-suited to complement a renewable-based system, nuclear is inflexible, it cannot ramp up and down constantly to accommodate high and low periods of renewable output.

Thus the big picture is the relevant picture and the EIA Annual Energy Outlook with projections to 2050 is telling. 

U.S. ENERGY INFORMATION ADMINISTRATION (EIA): Annual Energy Outlook 2018 with projections to 2050, U.S. Energy Information Administration, Feb 6, 2018. https://www.eia.gov/outlooks/aeo/pdf/AEO2018.pdf.

KEY EXCERPTS:  “The United States has been a net importer since 1953, but declining energy imports and growing energy exports make the United States a net energy exporter by the early 2020s in the Reference case. … U.S. natural gas trade, which historically was shipments by pipeline from Canada and to Mexico, is projected to be increasingly dominated by liquefied natural gas exports to more distant locations.” (p 23)  “In the Reference case, pipeline exports to Mexico and liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports increase until 2020.” (p 73) “U.S. exports of natural gas to Eastern Canada continue to increase because of Eastern Canada’s proximity to U.S. natural gas resources in the Marcellus and Utica plays.” (p 73)    “Combined cycle, wind, and solar photovoltaic generation have the most favorable cost characteristics – when the levelized cost and levelized avoided cost of electricity are considered together.” (pp 102-103)]

If chayrts are your thing, one will find some 270 pages of them in the most recent EIA Electric Power Monthly report issued December 2018 – it should demonstrate quite convincingly that what is needed from climate and environmental advocates is a concerted unified action to promote broad system transformation as fast as possible.

U.S. ENERGY INFORMATION ADMINISTRATION (EIA): Electric Power Monthly with Data for October 2018, U.S. Energy Information Administration, Dec 2018. https://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/current_month/epm.pdf.

Table ESI.A. Total Electric Power Industry Summary statistics (p 12)

U.S. Net Generation and Consumption of Fuels for October 2018 (thousand megawatt hours)

Coal: 87,452  

[Coal (1000 tons) consumption of fossil for electric generation: 48,488]

[Coal (1000 tons) consumption of fossil for electric generation: 1,009]

[Coal (1000 tons) consumption of fossil for electric generation and thermal output: 49,497]

Natural Gas:  124,027

[Natural Gas (1000 Mcf) consumption of fossil for electric generation: 918,069]

[Natural Gas (1000 Mcf) consumption of fossil for useful thermal output: 100,591]    

[Natural Gas (1000 Mcf) consumption of fossil for electric generation and thermal output: 1,018,660]

Renewable (excluding hydro), utility-scale: 32,788

Hydro (conventional); 18,779

Solar (small estim): 2,400

Average Price of electricity to residential customers in Oct 2018: $12.87 per kWh

Average Price of electricity to commercial in Oct 2018: $10.74 per kWh

Average Price of electricity to industrial customers in Oct 2018: $ 6.91 per kWh

Table 1.7.A. Utility Scale Facility Net Generation from Natural Gas (Thousand mWh) in Oct 2018 (all sectors): NY: 4,187 – out of a US total of: 124,027. (p 32)

Table 1.7.B. Utility Scale Facility Net Generation from Natural Gas (Thousand mWh), Year-to-Date through Oct 2018 (all sectors): NY: 43,067 – out of a US total of: 1,256,192. (p 33)

Table 1.9.A. Utility Scale Facility Net Generation from Nuclear Energy (Thousand mWh) in Oct 2018 (all sectors): NY: 3,639 – out of a US total 59,397 (p 37)

Table 1.9.B. Utility Scale Facility Net Generation from Nuclear Energy Year-to-Date through Oct 2018 (all sectors): NY: 35,146 – of a US total 671,473 (p 38)

Table 1.9.A. Utility Scale Facility Net Generation from Renewable Sources Excluding Hydroelectric (Thousand mWh) in Oct 2018 (all sectors): NY: 562 – of a US total 32,788 (p 41)

Table 1.9.B. Utility Scale Facility Net Generation from Renewable Sources Excluding Hydroelectric Year-to-Date through Oct 2018 (all sectors): NY: 5,899 – of a US total 353,586 (p 42)


Michel Lee, Esq.

Council on Intelligent Energy & Conservation Policy (CIECP)
(914) 420-5624
Senior Advisor
Promoting Health and Sustainable Energy (PHASE)