Closing Indian Point makes N.Y.’s net-zero goal harder to reach

April 13, 2021, 3:04PMANS Nuclear Cafe
The Indian Point nuclear power plant

With a blunt but indisputably accurate headline, an article from yesterday’s New York Times on the imminent closure of Indian Point makes it immediately clear what will happen when Unit 3, the nuclear plant’s last operating reactor, is shut down at the end of this month: The state of New York will be forced to rely more heavily on fossil fuels for electricity generation.

Following the retirement of Indian Point-2 last April, the share of New York’s power coming from gas-fired plants rose to about 40 percent, from about 36 percent in 2019, the piece notes, adding that the share from renewables moved up only slightly, to about 30 percent.

Even more blunt: The Times article quotes Robert Bryce, author of last year’s A Question of Power: Electricity and the Wealth of Nations, who says, “This is one of the greatest strategic blunders in the history of energy in New York. It’s a catastrophically wrong decision.”

Also quoted is Isuru Seneviratne, a clean-energy investor and a member of the steering committee of Nuclear New York, a group that has lobbied to keep Indian Point running. “It’s topsy-turvy,” Seneviratne says, adding that it is inevitable that New York City will draw even more power this year from gas-fired generators after Indian Point closes. Seneviratne’s group calculated that each of Indian Point’s reactors had been producing more power than all of the wind turbines and solar panels in New York combined.

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