When the State of New York announced the shutdown of the Indian Point Energy Center in 2017, local officials scrambled to create a task force with the intent of addressing the impact it would have on the area’s economy and workforce.
Over the past four years the Nuclear Decommissioning Citizen Advisory Panel (NDCAP) — which includes representatives of the local business community, Hendrick Hudson School District, labor unions, Entergy (Indian Point’s parent company), and state and local government — has met regularly to discuss solutions to the many issues raised by the power plant’s decommissioning.
An early February meeting on Zoom conference focused on the nearly 800 employees who will be leaving Indian Point in the months to come.
“Not only the loss of revenue to the Village was, and is, a huge concern, but also what would happen to the many employees who kept us safe all these years,” said Buchanan Mayor Theresa Knickerbocker. “They are our neighbors, they are our friends – who are losing good paying jobs. Generations of families worked at Indian Point. I knew many of the good, hard-working people that built Indian Point.”
Anthony Vitale, Site Vice President of Indian Point, explained the steps being taken “as a company, as a community, and as a state, to make this difficult transition as stress-free as reasonably can be expected.”
Vitale outlined Entergy’s “Talent Absorption Process,”(TAP), in which “any and all” employees who are willing to relocate will be given positions within the company. Last May, 41 former Indian Point workers participated.
About 300 of the approximately 770 remaining Indian Point employees will lose their jobs following the shutdown and permanent defueling of the plant’s Unit 3 in late May, Vitale said.
Another 312 employees will transfer to Holtec/CDI after the transaction is completed, and 130 will remain with Entergy and transfer to locations in the south to continue with the company.
Entergy has hosted several events to discuss the relocation program with employees and their families “in an effort to help our employees make the best decisions for the future from both a personal and professional point of view.”
Following the May shutdown, there will be opportunities for 312 current Indian Point employees to continue working on Phase 1 of the decommissioning process.
The company has also offered workshops on retirement savings, pensions and benefits, N.Y. Department of Labor resources such as resume writing and internet job searching, as well as counseling for employees struggling with the plant’s closure. Over 300 people have taken advantage of these programs.
“Our focus at Entergy, and my number one priority, has always been to protect the health and safety of the public and our employees, and to operate our plants safely and error-free,” said Vitale.
Vitale was met with praise and thanks by members of NDCAP, including labor leader Thomas Carey, who said Entergy had set a “gold standard” when it came to supporting local businesses, communities, schools, and fire departments.
“Entergy has been a great corporate neighbor,” said Teamsters representative Al Liberatore. “Most companies shut down and leave their employees stranded.”
According to recently passed legislation, sponsored by state Senator Pete Harckham and Assemblywoman Sandy Galef, all remaining employees will be paid a prevailing wage and any new employer will be bound by collective bargaining agreements.
The N.Y. Department of Public Service plans on forming an Indian Point Decommissioning Board, which will work parallel to NDCAP to “advise and assess how to protect the financial, environmental, and physical interests of the communities impacted by the decommissioning.”
Also addressed at the meeting was the State’s power plant cessation fund, designed to lessen the economic impact of power plant closures on surrounding communities. It has been increased to $140 million, from $45 million, something NDCAP had lobbied for.
“You have two passionate women here who are really fighting for the community and whatever we can do for the employees,” said Knickerbocker, in reference to Cortlandt Town Supervisor and fellow task force leader Linda Puglisi. “However we can help, we are there. That’s who we are.”
Christian Larson lives in Peekskill, having recently moved from Brooklyn, where he worked for NY1 News. He is a writer, podcaster, and event planner. Visit him > capngoodtimes.com.