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Astorino: 'Secret Deal' To Shut Indian Point 'Potentially Catastrophic'

Indian Point's two nuclear power plants would be closed permanently by 2021 under a deal confirmed Friday by Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, who called it "a complete surprise to us" and "potentially catastrophic." Photo Credit: Tom Auchterlonie
Indian Point Photo Credit: File

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- Indian Point's two active nuclear power plants will close by April 2021 under an agreement confirmed Friday by Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, who said the "secret deal" was "a complete surprise to us" and "potentially catastrophic."

Astorino, a Republican, said that neither Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, nor the plants' New Orleans-based owner, Entergy, informed him, nor the municipalities most affected by the plan.

Astorino said that at a minimum, the region will lose more than 1,000 utility company jobs.

Westchester County receives $4.5 million annually, the Town of Cortlandt receives about $1 million-a-year and the Village of Buchanan balances half its annual budget with nuclear power revenues.

Astorino accused Cuomo of fearmongering and politicking, pointing out that the governor bailed out four upstate power plants with $10 billion in subsidies, but now will saddle downstate consumers and property owners with higher electric bills and more taxes. 

Through a spokesman, Entergy declined comment late Friday.

Entergy and New York state agreed to shut down both nuclear reactors at the Indian Point facility in northwestern Westchester near the Putnam border. Under the agreement, one of the reactors will be closed by April 2020 and a second by 2021. The Hudson River site's third nuclear reactor closed in the 1970s.

Astorino said that Indian Point's 2,000-megawatts supplies up to one-fourth of all electricity used by New York City and Westchester County customers when the plants are fully operational. It's expected that hydroelectric power from Upstate and Canada -- as well as wind power could be further developed to replace the lost nuclear-generated source, but "the likelihood of replacing that power is not good," Astorino said. It would take at least 10 years to develop renewable power through wind and solar, he predicted.

Cuomo has been a longtime critic of the power plants which faced federal shutdown hearings due to safety concerns in the 1980s when Cuomo's father was governor. Indian Point is located 35 miles from Times Square.

Without a viable replacement source, ratepayers in New York City could be burdened with higher energy prices for years, Astorino said, noting that New York state is runner-up to Hawaii with the nation's second-highest electric rates.

In exchange, the state and Riverkeeper reportedly will drop safety and environmental legal claims against Indian Point previously filed with federal regulatory agencies.

Entergy has been seeking a 20-year renewal of its license from the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission since 2007. New York state officials have challenged the operating license renewal and have refused to grant permits they say the plant needs to remain open.

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