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Entergy Confirms Indian Point Closure, Pledges To Help Employees Relocate

Indian Point Photo Credit: File
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

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- Entergy Corp, the New Orleans-based owner of Indian Point nuclear point plant in Cortlandt, confirmed Monday morning that both of the facility's two active units will close by April 2021 under an agreement with the state and pledged to help the facility's 1,000 employees who are interested relocate for new jobs within its system.

Entergy officials will hold a press conference early Monday afternoon to discuss the closure after powering the Hudson Valley and New York City for more than four decades.

"The early and orderly shutdown is part of a settlement under which New York State has agreed to drop legal challenges and support renewal of the operating licenses for Indian Point," Entergy said in a statement released Monday morning. "The shutdown will complete Entergy’s exit from its merchant power business because of sustained low wholesale energy prices."

Chairman and CEO Leo Denault said Entergy will help Indian Point employees who are interested "relocated within the Entergy system."

“We thank our nearly 1,000 dedicated employees for operating a world-class nuclear power generating facility at top levels of safety, security and reliability, as well as the community for supporting us,” said Denault. “We are committed to treating our employees fairly and will help those interested in other opportunities to relocate within the Entergy system.”

Bill Mohl, president of Entergy Wholesale Commodities, said "key considerations in our decision to shut down Indian Point ahead of schedule include sustained low current and projected wholesale energy prices that have reduced revenues, as well as increased operating costs.

In addition, Mohl said, Entergy foresaw "continuing costs for license renewal beyond the more than $200 million and 10 years we have already invested."

On Friday, 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 Entergy, informed him, nor the municipalities most affected by the plan.

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. 

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 had 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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