To the Editor,
In his recent letter “Looking Past Indian Point, Riverkeeper Takes a Pass on Gas” [June 2020], Richard Webster [of Riverkeeper] paints a picture of energy in New York that bears no resemblance to reality.
Nearly every statement he makes in defending the closure of Indian Point, including deactivation of Reactor 2 in April, is incorrect.
Contrary to Webster’s claim, the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) did not say in its 2017 deactivation assessment of Indian Point that New York had enough replacement power to avoid new gas-fired generation.
GAS ENOUGH TO BURN
Rather, NYISO concluded that additional power plants would be needed in a few short years to maintain system reliability. The only reason they might not be needed immediately is because existing fossil–fuel plants in the region have capacity to burn more gas in the meantime.
Furthermore, the new power plants that Webster claims do not need to be built—CPV [Competitive Power Ventures] and Cricket Valley—have been built and are now operating. Whether burned in new plants or old ones, gas is replacing Indian Point.
Webster goes on to write that enough “clean energy and efficiency” has already been installed to replace Reactor 2.
However, renewable energy and efficiency measures implemented prior to Reactor 2’s deactivation were not sitting in a lockbox, waiting to replace nuclear power. They had been put to good use reducing the need for fossil fuels. Redeeming them now to “replace” Indian Point means that those benefits are forfeited and more fossil fuels get burned.
Webster then asserts that all of Indian Point’s power will be rapidly replaced by “demand reduction, additional transmission, and new renewables.”
However, more carbon-free electricity was lost by closing one half of Indian Point than annually produced by wind and solar in the entire state.
Likewise, transmission does not replace generation, and reductions in demand caused by a pandemic are not conditions to bank on for the future.
40% DEMAND SURGE
Recently NYISO found that to achieve goals of New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), including the electrification of vehicles and heating systems, demand for electricity in the next twenty years could increase 40%. Moreover, the CLCPA requires that all electricity by 2040 be carbon-free. Clearly, New York cannot afford to lose any carbon-free energy if those goals are to be met.
By pushing to close Indian Point, Riverkeeper has hindered critical progress on climate change and forced dirty fossil–fuel power plants in the metropolitan area—including those like Ravenswood in Environmental Justice communities—to operate longer than necessary.
Rather than shutting down Reactor 3 next year, New York should examine the mistake made in April, keep Indian Point running, and focus on the real crises our state and planet face.
Keith Schue is an electrical engineer.
Leonard Rodberg, Ph.D. is a physicist and Professor Emeritus of Urban Studies of Queens College/CUNY. Both are technical advisors for New York Energy and Climate Advocates.