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Indian Point unnecessary, state and grid operators concur

indianpointnuclearplant072412_optBY ROGER WITHERSPOON
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM

Schenectady, N.Y. – The 1,000-megawatt Indian Point 2 nuclear power plant could be shut down when its license expires in 2013 with no impact on either system reliability or the electricity needs of the New York City -Westchester County section of the state’s electric grid.

But the region could face an electricity shortage and a stress on system voltage if its nuclear twin, Indian Point 3, closes when its license expires at the end of 2015 and no replacement power is in place. However, projections are that the region’s shortfall would be 750 megawatts – three quarters of Indian Point’s production capacity – and these could be made up by a combination of new electricity generation, conservation measures, and new or improved transmission capabilities, according to both analyses.

These conclusions – that at least one of the two reactors is no longer necessary – were made in comprehensive, back to back analysis by the New York Independent System Operator, which regulates and runs the state’s power grid and released its 97-page, draft “Reliability Needs Assessment” (RNA) last week; and the New York State Energy Planning Board, which on Friday released its111-page final “Transmission and Distribution Systems Reliability Study and Report”. The two analyses differ only in terms of their respective views of electricity needs if IP3 shuts down on schedule Dec. 31, 2015.

The ISO, which has to deal with the systems as they exist, rather than what may develop, projects a worst case scenario with a shortfall in 2016 if the economy has picked up and electricity usage is growing rapidly.

“Reliability violations would occur in 2016 if the Indian Point Plant were to be retired at the latter of the two units’ current license expiration dates,” the ISO report predicts. “Under stress conditions, the voltage performance on the system without Indian Point would be degraded.”

That scenario would require Consolidated Edison, the transmission company, to make up the shortfall during peak periods with a combination of targeted blackouts, service reductions, or planned conservation measures. The region’s peak daily usage is between 9,000 and 13,000 megawatts, with higher summer demand driven by the use of air conditioners. Indian Point provides only 560 megawatts of the electricity transmitted in the area by ConEd, and sells the rest in a market stretching from Maine to Ohio. That is just 5 percent of the electricity used by area businesses, transit systems, and residents.

But the 2000 megawatts flowing from the plants form an important part of the carefully balanced electric grid. That is why the ISO requires some of that electricity must be replaced to ensure system stability in the NYC-WC sector.

The ISO projection continues that if electricity usage grows at the current, moderate pace, shortfalls would develop after 2018; and if the economy is sluggish problems will not occur until 2022. The ISO does not, however, state that that means IP3 must remain open and operating. IndianPoint101011_opt

“Continued reliability of the bulk power system during the study period depends on a combination of additional resources provided by market-based solutions…” the ISO report states. “However, the solutions submitted to the NYISO for evaluation…does not have to be in the same amounts of compensatory megawatts of the locations reported in the Reliability Needs Assessment. There are various combinations of resources and transmission upgrades that could meet the needs identified in the RNA.”

The ISO is currently developing a more precise assessment of what combinations would be needed to replace the plants so the free market can step in.

“A new plan envisions the possibility that Indian Point will be taken off line,” said ISO spokesman Ken Klapp during a discussion at the agency’s control center in the Albany suburbs. “The market won’t respond to needs unless they are made aware of the needs in the future. Then we get the market and the political system involved.”

The NY State Energy Planning Board acknowledges the possible shortfall, but expresses confidence the private sector will step in to fill the gap, which it says stems from the retirement of more power plants since 2010 than the ISO had anticipated, pulling some 700 megawatts from the system.



 
Comments (4)
4 Friday, 28 September 2012 08:52
nuclear neighbor
I was one of 14 people who were given a 3.5 hour presentation at the NYISO Control Center in Schenectady, NY on August 28, 2012, and the VP of External Affairs stated unequivocally that, Indian Point 2 could shut down at the end of its license in 2013 with no drop off in grid reliability. Shutting down IP3 in 2016 would result in a potential shortfall of about 750MW if the demand was high and no increased reserves were available. He pointed out that the replacement power could come from transmission line upgrades, energy efficiency, demand response programs or new generation. He was quite clear on these points.

Now, in terms of IP's contribution to our part of the state grid, if one reads the full quotes from Rick Gonzalez, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the New York Independent System Operator, he specifically states that, "The 30% number, it's my understanding that it is simply the ratio of Indian Point generation to the New York City demand over an annual period." The statement says nothing about where IP's output is being sold, and in fact, the nuclear plant operators were asked to bring documentation of where their output goes and they came empty handed. Maybe someone should connect the dots rather than conflate a non-associated output number with how much and from where downstate NY gets its power. The nuclear power supporters obfuscate endlessly, because the truth would set us all free of the dangers of a nuclear plant with no fail-safe and the ever increasing piles of deadly radioactive wastes that are building up on the banks of the Hudson, within 15 miles of a critical juncture in the NYC water supply system. About 90% of NYC's drinking water goes through the Kensico and New Croton Reservoirs. Do we really want that risk over a potential shortfall of 750MW. In February 2000, after a steam pipe rupture released radioactive steam into the Hudson Valley air and released radioactive water through the Buchanan sewer system that went directly into the Hudson River, Indian Point 2 went offline for 11 months and no one noticed and no one had spikes in their bills. We can live without Indian Point and we should.
3 Monday, 10 September 2012 11:19
EnergyEngineeringGal
What bunch of bs. Roger Witherspoon anoints himself as knowing more about Indian Point than his peers from the Associated Press and other prestigious news organizations who looked at the NYISO report and reached much different conclusions stories about the importance of Indian Point for preventing blackouts. They also beat Witherspoon to the story by a week.

Witherspoon has long been a crusader against Indian Point and had very close relations with anti-nuclear zealots. He also seems to have regularly tried to push his views on other reporters. And none of that has apparently changed in the past 10 plus years.

For additional information see:
http://neinuclearnotes.blogspot.com/2008/08/nuclear-power-for-journalists-with-bias.html
2 Friday, 07 September 2012 14:29
Matthew Cordaro
There is quite a lot in this article that needs to be corrected and clarified.

First of all, in January, senior officials with the New York Independent System Operator testified to two New York Assembly committees that Indian Point provides 30 percent of New York City’s electricity - far more than Mr. Witherspoon’s contention of 5 percent.

Given that Indian Point accounts for 30 percent of the City’s electricity and 11 percent of the state’s, it is common sense that losing this much power will cause serious grid reliability problems, as well as significantly higher power rates.

NYISO is clear on this in its comprehensive reliability report: “Reliability violations of transmission security and resource adequacy would occur in 2016 if the Indian Point Plant were to be retired by the end of 2015.” In other words, any attempt to prematurely shut down the plant would be playing with fire and posing unacceptable risks for blackouts, which NYISO determined would be 4.8 times the maximum acceptable risk. This is stated on p. 43 of the NYISO report which can be found at: http://documents.dps.ny.gov/public/MatterManagement/CaseMaster.aspx?MatterSeq=33785
In fact, I urge readers to review the NYISO report themselves.

With regard to the 11,000 megawatts of replacement power just waiting to be brought online, I ask Mr. Witherspoon to show me the goods – where are these supposed replacement options for Indian Point? Who is going to pay to build them? With electricity prices where they are, it is challenging at best assume Indian Point can be replaced.

The facts are clear: New York’s transmission system is simply not capable of handling the excess strain that would result from the loss of Indian Point. To call for Indian Point to be replaced under these circumstances is irresponsible.

Matthew Cordaro, Ph.D.
Former CEO – MidWest Independent System Operator, the transmission grid operator serving 12 states and a province of Canada
1 Friday, 07 September 2012 14:09
Matthew Cordaro, Ph.D.
There is quite a lot in this article that needs to be corrected and clarified.

First of all, in January, senior officials with the New York Independent System Operator testified to two New York Assembly committees that Indian Point provides 30 percent of New York City’s electricity - far more than Mr. Witherspoon’s contention of 5 percent.

Given that Indian Point accounts for 30 percent of the City’s electricity and 11 percent of the state’s, it is common sense that losing this much power will cause serious grid reliability problems, as well as significantly higher power rates.

NYISO is clear on this in its comprehensive reliability report: “Reliability violations of transmission security and resource adequacy would occur in 2016 if the Indian Point Plant were to be retired by the end of 2015.” In other words, any attempt to prematurely shut down the plant would be playing with fire and posing unacceptable risks for blackouts, which NYISO determined would be 4.8 times the maximum acceptable risk. This is stated on p. 43 of the NYISO report which can be found at: http://documents.dps.ny.gov/public/MatterManagement/CaseMaster.aspx?MatterSeq=33785
In fact, I urge readers to review the NYISO report themselves.

With regard to the 11,000 megawatts of replacement power just waiting to be brought online, I ask Mr. Witherspoon to show me the goods – where are these supposed replacement options for Indian Point? Who is going to pay to build them? With electricity prices being where they are, it is challenging at best assume Indian Point can be replaced.

The facts are clear: New York’s transmission system is simply not capable of handling the excess strain that would result from the loss of Indian Point. To call for Indian Point to be replaced under these circumstances is irresponsible.

Matthew Cordaro, Ph.D.
Former CEO – MidWest Independent System Operator, the transmission grid operator serving 12 states and a province of Canada

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