The disturbingly long list of U.S. nuclear plants prematurely closed in recent years will get even longer tonight when the last reactor at the Indian Point Energy Center, Unit 3, powers down for the final time. The shutdown, scheduled for 11 p.m. local time, will mark the end of nearly 60 years of zero-carbon electricity generation at the Buchanan, N.Y., facility.
The plant’s closure is the result of a settlement agreement reached in 2017 by Entergy and the State of New York and environmental groups opposed to Indian Point’s operation. According to an April 28 news release from Entergy, its decision to accede to the shutdown was driven by a number of factors, including “sustained low current and projected wholesale energy prices that reduced revenues.” Indian Point’s Unit 2 reactor ceased operation exactly one year ago today, on April 30, 2020. (The plant’s Unit 1 reactor operated from 1962 to 1974).
Testimonial: “Indian Point has been operated and maintained at the highest levels of reliability, safety, and security for many years,” said Chris Bakken, Entergy’s chief nuclear officer. “Indian Point’s enduring legacy will be the thousands of men and women who operated the plant safely, reliably, and securely, while helping to power New York City and the lower Hudson Valley for nearly 60 years. We owe those who serve now, along with those who came before them, a debt of gratitude.”
Going out on top: Upon shutdown, Unit 3 will have run continuously for 753 days—a world record for commercial light water reactors, Entergy said. Following a refueling outage, the 1,041-MWe pressurized water reactor was started back up on April 9, 2019. (The previous record for continuous days online was 739, set in 2006 by Exelon’s LaSalle-1.)
Sale saga: Entergy announced a proposed post-shutdown sale of Indian Point to Holtec International for decommissioning in April 2019. The following November, the companies filed a petition with the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) concerning the proposed sale, as well as a license-transfer application with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
The State of New York registered its objections to certain aspects of the proposed license transfer in February 2020 by filing a petition with the NRC to request a public hearing. The agency nonetheless moved forward with its review, approving the license transfer in November 2020. In January of this year, the NRC officially denied New York’s petition, and the state responded with a lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Appeals. Earlier this month, the suit was withdrawn under a provisional agreement negotiated by Entergy, Holtec, New York state and local governments, and environmental organizations.
All parties to the agreement now recommend that the PSC approve the post-shutdown transfer of Indian Point.