Deal reached to shut Indian Point nuclear power plant by 2021

ALBANY - The state has reached a deal to close the Indian Point nuclear power plant in Westchester County by 2021, sources told the Daily News Friday.

Under the agreement, one of the two Indian Point reactors would be shut down by April 2020 with the second following 12 months later, the sources said.

The closures could be pushed off by four years by mutual agreement of the state and plant owner Entergy if sufficient replacement power in the New York City region cannot be found or there are other problems, like a national security risk, a source said.

While several sources said the deal was all done short of the required signatures, a spokesman for Gov. Cuomo denied it has been finalized.

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The spokesman, Richard Azzopardi, didn’t deny, however, that talks were far along.

“There is no agreement,” Azzopardi said. “Governor Cuomo has been working on a possible agreement for 15 years and until it's done, it's not done. Close only counts for horseshoes, not for nuclear plants.”

The big question going forward is what will replace the electricity provided by Indian Point to the downstate region.

Supporters of the plant have argued shutting it down would be a blow to New York City’s already overworked electrical system. Indian Point provides about 25% of the New York region’s power.

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One source said replacement options could include increased hydropower from Quebec, though that would require building a transition line that goes down the Hudson. Off-shore wind is also an option, the source said.

Cuomo, who lives in Westchester County, has for years called for the closure of Indian Point, arguing that a disaster would put millions of people in the metropolitan area at risk.

Former Westchester Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, a longtime proponent of closing the plant, said: "It's about damn time. The plant isn't safe, it isn't economical and it's falling apart."

State Sen. Terrence Murphy (R-Westchester) said he was “shocked” by the news.

“At this point we are still trying to obtain more information, but most troubling is the lack of transparent planning for the proposed shut down of the plant,” he said.

“If these reports are in fact true, I can assure you, we are going to work in a bipartisan way to make sure the people who live and work here are taken care of."

Cuomo is likely hoping to announce a deal on Tuesday, when he is scheduled to deliver in Westchester County the third of six regional State of the State speeches.

Before shutting down, Entergy, as part of the deal, will agree to undertake a number of safety measures, a source said. They include expediting the transfer of spent fuel into dry storage, replacing bolts inside the plant, agreeing to annual state safety inspections and implementing this year a plan to mitigate potential ground water contamination, the source with knowledge of the deal said.

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, whose office was part of the talks, praised the emerging agreement.

“If we can shut down Indian Point under an agreement that enhances public safety and kick-starts investment into safer and more reliable renewable energy sources, that will be a major victory for the millions of New Yorkers who live in the region,” he said.

A spokesman for Entergy, which had been looking to renew its federal license for another 20 years, declined comment.

While Cuomo has sought to close Indian Point for years, he is pushing a multi-billion dollar bailout upstate of three aging nuclear power plants that he says are key to his clean energy plan designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

With Glenn Blain

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photo Deal reached to shut Indian Point nuclear power plant by 2021 images

photo of Deal reached to shut Indian Point nuclear power plant by 2021

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