Indian Point 2 to Shut Down on Thursday

Real Estate In-Depth | April 2020

Indian Point Energy Center on the shores of the Hudson River in Buchanan

BUCHANAN—A day that many business leaders have dreaded and environmentalists have hailed will come to pass tomorrow morning (April 30). The Indian Point Unit 2 reactor will be shut down by control room operators at the nuclear power plant complex here by Entergy Corp.

The Indian Point 2 reactor has been in operation for more than 45 years. Entergy reported today that the Unit 3 reactor is scheduled to be permanently shut down by April 30, 2021.

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

Unit 2 began commercial operations on Aug. 1, 1974 and was purchased by Entergy in 2001.

The shutdown of both operating units at Indian Point was announced in 2017 pursuant to a settlement agreement with the State of New York and was the result of a number of factors, including sustained low current and projected wholesale energy prices that reduced revenues as well as the costs associated with relicensing of the two reactors.

As part of its commitment to employees at Indian Point, the company has previously announced a plan to find a position within Entergy for those qualified employees who are willing to relocate. Currently, more than 40 employees from Indian Point have accepted offers to continue with Entergy in other locations.

In April 2019, Entergy announced the proposed post-shutdown sale of the subsidiaries that own Unit 1, Unit 2 and Unit 3 to a Holtec International subsidiary. Holtec and its team plan to initiate decommissioning at Indian Point promptly following regulatory approvals and transaction close in 2021, and it expects to release portions of the site for re-use nearly 40 years sooner than if Entergy continued to own the facility, Entergy reported.

Holtec, through its affiliate Comprehensive Decommissioning International, will hire Entergy’s employees at Indian Point who have been selected for “Phase 1” of decommissioning.

Entergy owns and operates five nuclear power units in its regulated utility business, and is committed to the continued operation of its nuclear fleet in those locations. Its nuclear power plants in those markets are located in Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi, and have more than 5,000 megawatts of clean, reliable, and economic electricity generating capacity for customers in those regions.

Entergy owns and operates power plants with approximately 30,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity, including nearly 9,000 megawatts of nuclear power. Entergy delivers electricity to 2.9 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Entergy has annual revenues of $11 billion and approximately 13,600 employees.

In response to tomorrow’s closure, New York State Senator Pete Harckham and Assemblywoman Sandy Galef issued a joint statement vowing to continue their strong support for workforce protections, local investments and rigorous oversight while the Indian Point Energy Center undergoes its decommissioning process.

“The decommissioning of a nuclear power plant is very new to the State of New York—the process is complicated, dangerous, and plays out over decades,” said Galef. “While the individual stakeholder may come and go, the state will be able to act on behalf of New Yorkers through a newly proposed oversight board comprised of New York State agency heads. The state has the authority, the resources, the expertise, and the desire to be an active participant and to ensure that the best interest of New Yorkers is always in mind. In a new industry with few rules and less oversight, New York State will lead by example and ensure accountability.”

Harckham added, “The closing of Indian Point will impact the region and its residents in many ways, and being prepared to mitigate the economic effects while also safeguarding our environment needs to be a priority. If we don’t put in due diligence now, there will be little to no chance to reverse or correct mistakes made and harmful situations that arise. Assemblywoman Galef and I both understand what is at stake here—and why appropriate actions are necessary now. We’ll make our legislative efforts a top priority and do everything possible to make sure they get passed in this session.”

Last year, Galef and Harckham both introduced legislation, which went unsigned by the governor, to minimize the negative impact to the workforce during this transition by requiring the decommissioning company to hire from the existing pool of Indian Point workers first. It also declared the energy facility to be a prevailing wage site, so employees will be paid commensurate with what they are making now. This legislation was resubmitted to both the Assembly and Senate earlier this year.

The financial implications to the local community from Indian Point’s closing are expected to be sizable. The municipal tax base and local school district funding have long been supported by the energy facility, and maintaining a good portion of that support is crucial, especially in light of unforeseen municipal costs incurred during the Novel Coronavirus pandemic, the two lawmakers noted,

To steady tax revenues for the Town of Cortlandt, Village of Buchanan and Hendrick Hudson School District during the transition, legislation has been introduced to include spent fuel and the fuel casks at the nuclear facility as part of its real property tax assessment. Otherwise, market value of the non-operating plant will adversely affect the assessment and create an unmanageable revenue gap for these tax-funded entities. Similar legislation was introduced last year but did not advance to the governor.

Galef and Harckham have also introduced legislation to create a statewide board to oversee the decommissioning of Indian Point. This legislation (A.10236 / S.8154) would bring New York State to the table to oversee and monitor the decommissioning of any nuclear plant in the state.