On May 31, 2013, Pix 11 (WPIX-TV out of New York City) published a story titled Local power plant battling lawmakers and environmentalists to stay open that included some information about the potential negative effects on the New York City power supply if the plant is forced to shut down.
It mentioned that politicians like Governor Andrew Cuomo and antinuclear groups like Riverkeeper (in light of the threat of global climate change, I have a hard time granting any group that vigorously opposes nuclear energy with the title of “environmental”) are working hard to require the premature retirement of Indian Point. The news story highlighted a recently published report from the New York Independent System Operator titled “Power Trends 2013”, which included the following warning about the impact of a pushing Indian Point’s 16 GW-hrs per year of annual electricity production off of the New York grid.
This would result in immediate transmission security and resource adequacy criteria violations unless sufficient replacement resources are in place prior to retirement.
The reporter provided the following interpretation that made the rather technical-sounding language personal for the viewing audience.
What that means is, without another power source, closing Indian Point means you probably won’t be able to power your air conditioner to fight the sweltering summer heat. Or any other home appliance for that matter.
(Emphasis in original report.)
According to the reporter, the cost of replacing Indian Point’s power output would be more than $800 million dollars and that cost would be passed on to consumers. That modest cost estimate can only includes the cost of building replacement power generating capacity using open cycle natural gas turbines (it works out to just $400 per kilowatt of capacity); it cannot include the cost of new gas transmission pipelines, the continuing cost of fuel to operate the plants or the cost of building more efficient, combined cycle power plants.
The news item also included clips of attention grabbing speeches from local politicians who apparently do not have a good understanding of electricity production, the importance of reliable electricity, or the way that electric power grids function to maintain the flow of electricity from power plants all the way to customers.
Here is a quote from a politician behind a podium near the end of the clip. He is not identified, but he is standing in front of a banner that says Westchester County Board of Legislators.
While the risk of something happening might be small, the consequences would be horrific.
I wonder when reporters are going to put politicians on the spot by asking them what the “horrific” consequences of Fukushima really were?
Update: (This post was updated on June 2, 2013 at 5:41 am.) When publishing the first version of this post, I took the lazy route of simply embedded the video from PIX 11 instead of summarizing its contents. I did not realize that the iframe code included an autoplay feature that I could not disable. I apologize for including the annoying feature that started playing every time you reloaded the Atomic Insights site. End Update.
In related news, in a May 31, 2013 post on Dot Earth, Andy Revkin reported on the UNSCEAR report about Fukushima health effects. The article is titled Experts Foresee No Detectable Health Impact from Fukushima Radiation. Please join in the comment thread.
I also recommend that you allocate 10 minutes or so to watch the Vogtle progress update video published as the Friday matinee at ANS Nuclear Cafe.