30 April 2020

Closure of 47‑Year‑Old Indian Point Reactor Near New York City

Closure of 47-Year-Old Indian Point Reactor Near New York City

WNISR, 30 April 2020

Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant - New York - Photo Entergy

Just short of 47 years after commencing operations, the Indian Point Unit 2 reactor is closing today, 30 April 2020. Located on the Hudson River, 48 km from Manhattan, New York, the PWR was taken off the grid under the terms of an unusual 9 January 2017 agreement between the nuclear plant owner Entergy, non-governmental organization Riverkeeper and the state of New York. Entergy invested over US$1 billion in the two remaining 1,000 MW Units 2 and 3 in recent years. Unit 1, a smaller 250 MW reactor, was closed in 1974 just 12 years after it had started up.

In April 2007 Entergy filed with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) a license renewal application for both Indian Point operating units, which were subsequently subject to sustained opposition from citizens groups. Connected to the grid on 26 June 1973, Unit 2, along with Unit 3 that followed on 27 April 1976, have long been challenged on two crucial environmental requirements: a coastal zone management certification and a water permit application. While Entergy had declared that it is exempt from needing the coastal zone management certification, New York State disagreed. The two parties continued through 2016 to battle it out in the Court of Appeals.

According to the 2017 agreement, Indian Point Unit 2 was to shut down no later than today and Unit 3 no later than 30 April 2021. Entergy has also stated that low natural gas prices and increased operating costs of the reactors were key factors in its decision to close Indian Point. A recent study highlighted that rather than increasing natural gas electricity generation to meet New York state 2025 clean energy targets, there will have to be a build out of renewables, storage, and energy efficiency far exceeding the loss in generation from the Indian Point reactors.