Governor Andrew Cuomo won't give up on his obsessive quest
An unstoppable force has crashed into an immovable barrier in New York. Mayor Michael Bloomberg (right) in late June went public with blistering criticism that rivals the city's summer heat that can fry eggs on the sidewalk.
He told anyone in the news media who cared to listen, "If you close Indian Point today, we'd have enormous blackouts." The twin nuclear reactors supply about 25% of the electricity used in the metro area.
Mayor Bloomberg added as far as he can see "there is no alternative to the amount of energy we get from Indian Point." He added that closing the reactors when their licenses expire "would be detrimental to New York."
Yet, a week later an aide to Gov. Andrew Cumo told the New York Times that the Mayor's views, and a report by Charles Rivers Associates that supports them, would not deter plans to seek closure of the reactors a in 2013 and 2015.
Not a partisan political battle
While Bloomberg is a republican and Cuomo is a democrat, this is not a partisan fight. What it is about is a mayor who looks at the reality of the situation and a governor who's near obsessive focus on closing the reactors defies rational explanation.
In mid-June executives from Entergy, the publically-traded utility that owns and operates Indian Point, met with aides to Gov. Cumo (left). They thought that the long-sought sit down represented an opportunity to make peace with the state's highest elected officials. Instead, they were shocked right down to their socks by an assertion, and in no uncertain terms, that the state was determined to find any method that would work to close the plants.
Mayor Bloomberg's statements telling Gov. Cuomo to back off aren't just so much political hot air. A report by Charles River Associates, leaked to the New York Times in the first week of July, concludes there is no easy way to replace the more than 2,000 MW of power provided by the reactors at least in the short term.
The report points out New York does not have the transmission lines to provide replacement power and efforts to build new grid infrastructure is likely to generate as much political opposition as the reactors themselves.
Less juice and paying more for what’s left
Ed Kee, a consultant for NERA Associates, commented to the New York Times July 13.
"The answer is pretty simple: [electricity] prices will be higher and reliability will be lower."
In round numbers, if Indian Point is closed, wholesale electricity prices could rise by 12%. Nuclear energy is the lowest cost source of electricity in New York. Eliminating the reactors defaults to higher priced coal and natural gas based electricity generation. It will also lead to higher greenhouse gas emissions.
Wind turbines, which are touted by organization like Riverkeeper, which supports Cuomo's drive to close the reactors, cannot deliver their power to New York city from their upstate locations because the grid is already at capacity.
The result will be more power failures, and not just brownouts, but total blackouts. Industry experts told the New York Times the path to building new power grids could take more than five years.
Mayor Bloomberg hasn't said what he'll do next to defend the interests of his city against the hare brained power politics coming out of Albany.
One thing is sure. A man with the demonstrated determination to make a billion dollars in the private sector and to then run the nation's largest city isn't likely to let Gov. Cumo pull the plug on its electricity supply.
Ultimately, this comes down to an issue of political will and determination. So here's a video that shows what "determination" looks like when playing Sgt. Early's Dream, a traditional Irish reel.
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