The Indian Point nuclear plant was announced for closure by New York governor Andrew Cuomo recently. The plant supplies electricity to New York City and some surrounding areas. It has two working reactors, accounting for 10 % of the power generation in the states, and they are slated to go offline, more than a decade ahead of schedule, in 2020 and 2021. The announcement of the closure was celebrated by environmentalists, while some others expressed concerns about the loss of a carbon-free source of energy.
Nuclear power plants which supply zero-carbon electricity to America, pose a range of risks to humans and wildlife, with hazardous, radioactive waste to a full-scale meltdown. The Environmental Protection Agency trending towards its carbon-cutting goals assumed nuclear power plants’ existence for decades to come. With cheaper natural gas reportedly digging into the profits of the ageing nuclear power plants, the plants seem pressured towards closure much ahead of schedule.
While states like Illinois have reportedly extended a lifeline to nuclear by subsidizing struggling plant, New York is looking forward to generating electricity through solar, wind, and hydropower post-Indian Point’s closure. It was also reported in a statement by Cuomo that at a regional level, the plant’s closure would not drive up emissions.
Meanwhile, Cuomo called for further limiting carbon pollution by states belonging to the Northeast carbon trading program and announced cutting carbon emissions by another 30 % by 2030. By 2030, New York will require 50 % of its power from renewables toward its energy plan.
Making strides towards less climate change by focusing on wind, solar, and hydropower, New York City, is remaking its power grid and incentivising utilities like rooftop solar panels, community solar arrays, and microgrids. New York is probably steering off from nuclear and not repeating the Three Mile disaster.
The Indian Point power plant reportedly posed a range of risks like a leak at the plant, turning groundwater radioactive, a possibility of a nuclear meltdown, or a terrorist attack.
Smart public policies can help transition towards clean and resilient renewable energy. Meanwhile, Cuomo announced a new offshore wind project which can generate electricity and power around 18,000 homes. Such climate policies adopted by New York could serve as a model for other states who wish to steer away from fossil fuels and nuclear energy.