Entergy closes Indian Point unit 2

30 April 2020

Unit 2 of Entergy's Indian Point nuclear power plant will be shut down for the final time today after more than 45 years of operation. Unit 3, the remaining operating unit at the site in the state of New York, is scheduled to be permanently shut down by this time next year.

Indian Point (Image: Entergy)

"Over the last 45 years, thousands of dedicated professionals have operated Unit 2 at Indian Point - safely, securely and reliably," Entergy Chief Nuclear Officer Chris Bakken said. "We owe each of them our thanks for a job well done and for their commitment to the highest standards of professionalism."

The two-unit plant is in the south-east of New York state, 24 miles (39 kilometres) from New York City.  Unit 2 - a pressurised water reactor (PWR) which has a net generating capacity of 998 MWe - began commercial operation in August 1974 and unit 3 - a 1030 MWe (net) PWR - two years later.

The plan to shut down the reactors was announced by Entergy in 2017 and is pursuant to a settlement agreement with the State of New York. This was the result of a number of factors, including sustained low current and projected wholesale energy prices that reduced revenues, the company said yesterday. The agreement included a provision that in the event of an emergency situation affecting electricity generation, the state may agree to allow the plant to continue operating for up to five more years. Indian Point 2 is currently licensed to operate until 2024 and unit 3 until 2025.

Assistant secretary for the US Department of Energy Office of Nuclear Energy Rita Baranwal, who had previously tweeted that the premature shutdown of Indian Point "pained" her, said it was "disappointing" to see unit 2 shut down four years prior to the expiry of its operating licence.

"As recently highlighted in the Nuclear Fuel Working Group report, nuclear power is a crucial component of our energy infrastructure that provides reliable, clean energy to our grid," she said, adding that the region will not only lose 1000 megawatts of clean and reliable power this year, but millions of dollars in local tax revenues and hundreds of high-paying jobs when unit 3 shuts down next April. "Our nation's reactors, which can run up to 80 years, should be allowed to safely run out their lifespan. The Office of Nuclear Energy is committed to preserving the US fleet and will continue working directly with industry to support research that reduces operating costs, increases revenue opportunities and keeps our largest source of clean energy on the grid for many more years to come," Baranwal said.

New York in 2016 approved a Clean Energy Standard explicitly recognising the zero-carbon contribution of the so-called upstate nuclear power plants - two units at Nine Mile Point and single units at RE Ginna and James A Fitzpatrick - as critical in enabling it to meet its climate change targets. The state had previously opposed Entergy's application to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission to extend the operating licences for Indian Point, and the plant was not included in that agreement.

Climate Coalition, a confederation of individuals, environmental groups, climate and clean energy advocates, last week delivered a petition and letter signed by more than 5000 environmentalists to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo urging him to postpone the closure of Indian Point which the organisation said would "increase emissions, hurt residents' health, destabilise the grid, and set back New York's climate agenda". Since nuclear power plants do not produce air pollution that could worsen the effects of COVID-19, the signatories also said that keeping Indian Point online could save lives during and after the current pandemic.

Entergy last year announced the proposed post-shutdown sale of the subsidiaries that own the three Indian Point units - including Indian Point 1, which operated from 1962 until 1974 - to a subsidiary of Holtec International for accelerated decommissioning.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News