Brace for higher energy costs, worse pollution as Indian Point closes
New York consumers and businesses need to brace for the impact that Indian Point’s closing will have on monthly electric utility bills, air quality, and grid reliability.
Make no mistake: the premature loss of Indian Point will have grave social and economic consequences in inner-city communities. That’s where the real hurt will be felt most.
For more than 40 years, Indian Point has been the backbone of New York’s electricity system. It generates 2,069 megawatts of power, providing 25 percent of the electricity for New York City and the surrounding region. In fact, the plant generates enough power for two million New York homes, about the same amount as typically produced by up to five natural gas-powered plants.
In four years, the nuclear energy facility at Indian Point in Buchanan will cease operation, leaving state policymakers to focus on increasing clean energy production with zero carbon emissions to make up for the loss of clean power supplied by Indian Point.
National and state government leaders must focus on developing a plan to ensure that an adequate electricity supply is available to power our homes and communities. The urgency is real given the time it takes to get replacement power planned, approved and built:
Replacement power could very well drive up electricity costs — especially for our seniors or young families with fixed incomes.
Replacement for Indian Point could also harm our environment, especially our air.
In communities across New York City — from the South Bronx to Bedford-Stuyvesant, overburdened urban communities suffer from high rates of asthma, which is epidemic among the young and elderly due in part to carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel power plants.
Wind and solar cannot expand fast enough to replace the lost power from retiring Indian Point. And be forewarned, a decision could be made to use coal and natural gas to fill the power void, causing a significant rise in toxic emissions and greenhouse gases.
To date, neither a comprehensive nor firm clean energy plan is yet in place. Our elected officials must address the issues resulting from the closure of Indian Point by making sure that the voices of all of the affected communities are heard.
The writer is executive director of National Association of Neighborhoods.