- The state of New York has filed an objection to Entergy’s request for a Coastal Consistency Determination for the Indian Point nuclear plant, part of the state's campaign to shutter the facility, which has been operating since the mid-1970s.
- Opponents of the plant say the lack of a water-use certificate could block the plant's bid to continue operating another 20 years, and may force it to shutter as soon as next year, The Journal News reports.
- But according to Entergy, the decision will not have any impact because it withdrew its application for a water-use permit following a court ruling on a coastal management program that would grandfather in the Indian Point facility.
New York has been pushing for years to close down Indian Point Units 2 and 3, which have been operating since 1974 and 1976, respectively. The facility generates a quarter of New York City's power, operating almost continuously with more than 2,000 MW of capacity.
But it is unclear just how significant the Cuomo administration's water permit decision will be. Riverkeeper, an advocate for New York's waterways, says the opposition has the "potential" to block the unit from being relicensed and could cause it to close as soon as next year.
“This news is encouraging. We’re satisfied with the Department of State’s thorough evaluation of the impacts, and risks regarding Indian Point, and ultimate finding that a coastal consistency determination for the plant is simply inappropriate,” Riverkeeper Staff Attorney Deborah Brancato said in a statement. “This objection is tantamount to a denial, and we are confident that under the correct reading of the law, New York’s highest court should find that a Consistency Determination is necessary for relicensing, and that the department’s decision will stand.”
Unit 2's license expired in 2013 and Unit 3's will as well, in mid-December. Both units will continue to operate, however, as the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) mulls a 20-year license extension that would allow the plants to continue operating out to 60 years of age.
While Entergy argues that the certification is not needed because of a 2014 legal decision, Riverkeeper said it disagrees with that interpretation and that the decision has been appealed to the New York State Court of Appeals, which has agreed to hear the case. A decision is expected in 2016.
Cuomo has been pushing for Indian Point to shutter since 2012, in part because of the plant's proximity to New York City and the 20 million residents living in the area.
Re-licensing exsisting plants, rather than constructing new ones, has been a popular option for nuclear generators looking to preserve their low-carbon generation. But even with new authorization to operate, many plants in organized markets are under threat of unprofitable status and retirement due to the low price of natural gas and renewable energy.
Continued retirements of nuclear plants could put the Obama administration's carbon goals under the Clean Power Plan in jeopardy, analysts warn. But barring more plants like Indian Point going offline, the EIA expects U.S. nuclear generation to increase slightly on the road to 2030, thanks to a handful of new units coming online. New nuclear construction is expected to be limited to states with vertically-integrated utilities, rather than in the organized markets, due to the amount of capital needed to develop a new nuclear plant.