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Study: Closing NY's Indian Point would be costly

Associated Press Modified: September 18, 2012 at 2:45 pm •  Published: September 18, 2012

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) — If the Indian Point nuclear power plants are shut down, higher electricity costs will deliver a major blow to New York's economy, costing tens of thousands of jobs a year, a research organization predicted Tuesday.

The report from the fiscally conservative Manhattan Institute said that with power demands rising and constraints on importing electricity, higher-cost alternatives would have to be developed to replace Indian Point's 2,000 megawatts. No matter the generation type, from gas-fired plants to windmills, alternatives would cost more than Indian Point, it said.

"Each will result in higher electric prices for everyone in New York state," the report said.

The report adds to a pile of studies that have reached varying conclusions on the value of Indian Point, which is on the Hudson River in Buchanan, 35 miles from Manhattan. Plant owner Entergy Nuclear is seeking 20-year license extensions.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo opposes the new licenses, saying it's unsafe to have a nuclear plant in such a densely populated area, with more than 17 million people within 50 miles. A call to his office Tuesday was not immediately returned.

The environmental group Riverkeeper, which claims the plants damage the Hudson River ecology by killing fish and warming the water, dismissed the report.

"These are the same tired arguments, ignoring recent events that clearly show Indian Point power can be replaced on time and affordably," said Philip Musegaas, a program director. He cited a state study addressing transmission problems and a state report that found the nuclear power could be replaced.

Federal hearings on the new licenses are expected to begin next month, although a decision could be two years away.

The Manhattan Institute report is by Jonathan Lesser, president of an energy consulting firm. It did not take a position on whether the nuclear plants should be closed. But it said politicians "should be under no illusion that closing (Indian Point) will be painless. It will not be."

It said an Indian Point shutdown would increase the cost of electricity by as much as $2.2 billion a year. The average New York household's annual electric bill would go up at least $76, but businesses and industries would pay much more and as many as 40,000 jobs a year could be lost.

Transportation providers, including the New York City subway, would pay between $1 million and $2 million more each year for electricity, the report said.

Entergy spokesman Jim Steets said, "We've long appreciated how important Indian Point is, and it drives our focus on ensuring safe and continuous operation."