Closing Indian Point nuclear plant will not hurt reliability, New York ISO says
- The closure of Entergy's Indian Point nuclear facility will not threaten grid reliability, the New York ISO concluded in a report issued yesterday. The company announced in January that it would close the plant's two units, in 2020 and 2021, leaving 2,000 MW of capacity to be replaced.
- The report cited three new gas plants expected to come online soon, totaling 1,800 MW of new generation, as the reason Indian Point could safely close. However, a report earlier this year recommended energy storage, combined with renewable energy and efficiency, could effectively replace the capacity.
- New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is a longtime critic of the plant and for years has called for Entergy to shut down the plant, which is located just 25 miles from the nation's most populous city.
The ISO's Generator Deactivation Assessment report is in some ways a snapshot of the issue wholesale energy markets are facing from pressures of cheap natural gas. But while New York has taken steps to save its nuclear fleet, Indian Point has remained a flashpoint for Cuomo, who cited its close proximity to New York City and reports of leaking as cause to shut it down. A deal was reached earlier this year to do so, and the ISO has said it is not concerned about reliability once the facility shuts down.
Units 2 and 3 are each a little more than 1,000 MW. Stepping in to fill the capacity void are three gas projects: a 120-MW uprate at Bayonne Energy Center, the 679 MW CPV Valle Energy Center, and the 1,020 MW Cricket Valley Energy Center.
Assuming those three gas plants are completed on time, NYISO said it did not "identify a Generator Deactivation Reliability Need." The reliability study looks at the five years following each of Indian Point's two units.
But the grid operator added that "reliability of the existing system could only be maintained if sufficient replacement sources of power are added within the Lower Hudson Valley (Zones G-J)." If the trio of gas plants fail to come online as expected, the ISO said possible solutions include generation, efficiency, transmission and demand response.
The decision to close the plant was celebrated by Cuomo, who had tangled with Indian Point for years. In 2015, New York rejected a water use permit for the plant, leading Entergy to file a lawsuit. But in the end, Entergy officials said it was competition from cheap natural gas that made the difference, resulting in a deal between the utility and Gov. Cuomo's office to shut down the facility.
However, replacing the lost capacity with natural gas may prove controversial in a state striving to meet ambitious emissions and renewable energy goals. A study released earlier this year says 450 MW of energy storage, paired with renewable energy and efficiency, could replace the capacity at a lower cost for consumers.
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