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Indian Point: Fact and fiction for New Jersey

IndianPoint101011_optBY MARILYN ELIE
COMMENTARY

Entergy, the owners of the nuclear reactors at Indian Point, continues its unremitting campaign of scare tactics about shortages and inflated bills should the reactors not be relicensed. Now ordinary people on both sides of the Hudson River are left with many unanswered questions.

How vital is Indian Point to the NYC/Westchester grid where a lot of New Jersey residents work? Con Ed transmits all of the electricity from Indian Point. What about the millions of people in the 50 mile radius of the plant that are not Con Ed ratepayers? Do they get any electricity from Indian Point? Exactly how would the closing of Indian Point affect New Jersey residents? Where would replacement electricity come from? Does it matter?

There is a big difference between generating capacity and usage. Capacity is what the reactors can generate. Usage is how much of that total actually goes into the regional grid. The facts are as follows: Indian Point reactors generate slightly over 2,000 MW of electricity. Con Ed, the only transmission company for the NYC/Westchester grid, transmits about 12,000 MW of electricity to this grid on an average summer day.  Of that only 560 MW comes from Indian Point according to Con Ed’s annual report. This amounts to about 5 percent of the electricity used on a typical 12,000 MW summer day. Entergy refuses to say where the rest is sold.

However, it is clearly not to our regional grid and certainly not to New Jersey or to anyone in the area who has a utility other than Con Ed. People in that category get zero electrons from Indian Point and bear all of the risk.  


Some communities like Ringwood are considering passing a non-binding Health and Safety Resolution asking, among other things, that the high-level radioactive waste currently in the spent fuel pool be moved to dry cask storage where it poses less risk. For the complete Health and Safety Resolution click here.

Some Entergy employees have objected to even this measure of safety. The rest of the power from Indian Point could be sold anywhere from Maine to Ohio, where ever the profit is the highest. Replacing such a small percentage of power in the NYC/Westchester grid is  hardly a problem for New Jersey. A new transmission line from the New Jersey PJM grid has already been approved and will go under the Hudson River directly to Manhatten.  It will carry 550 MW.

Several Entergy employees have risen to the defense of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission lately, citing numerous “inspection hours” and trying to reassure people that the plant is safe because they would not work there if it wasn’t. They are certainly entitled to their own opinions which are not to be confused with facts. Such assertions of safety are unconscionable given the fact that New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa joined with  New York’s Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in recent legal actions against the NRC’s so called "Waste Confidence Rule," which allowed storage of spent fuel rods on site for 60 years with no studies or planning. Both Attorney Generals plus the Attorney General from Connecticut, George Jepsen, took the NRC to court for their lack of oversight over long-term storage of high-level nuclear waste and the risks it presents to 21 million people in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut who live and work within a 50-mile radius of the reactors. In its final decision the court lambasted the agency for its unrealistic assumptions about the storage of irradiated fuel on site with no studies, in violation of the law, on the assumption that a national repository would be available “when needed." 



 

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