I originally wrote this article back in October 2011 after reading about the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami and the subsequent level 7 meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant complex in Japan. At the same time, details about Governor Cuomo’s “Energy Highway” initiative, the realization that hydraulic fracturing along the Marcellus shale formation in New York State would change the energy landscape for years to come, and those pesky DEC rules that would outlaw river discharges when alternative methods were available made me think something good could come out of what has become a sore subject here in the Town of Haverstraw. The sore subject, of course, is the tax ratables these power plants now bring the siting community. Powerful politicians in our town don’t necessarily trust these obdurate and callous multibillion $ energy companies, and as long as Haverstraw is in litigation with GenOn (soon to be NRG) and current valuations plummet, not one resident of the Town of Haverstraw will be willing to site a plant in their town. Like I heard recently, we will only be successful if Cuomo doesn’t get in the hut with the no good money grubbing robber barons.
As everyone in the Hudson Valley knows, the Indian Point Nuclear power plants generate over 2,000 megawatts of electrical power, comprising as much as 30 percent of the electricity used in New York City and Westchester County. The Indian Point Nuclear Power Center is located some 37 miles north of New York City, and has been the center of controversy since the day it was conceived. Built on a relativity minor fault line and on the banks of the Hudson River, it has operated for many years without any major nuclear events. Environmentally, it does not comply with the latest DEC mandates for river water discharges. Improvements would include constructing cooling towers. Needless to say, many people in the Hudson Valley are ready to close this plant down and as controversial as it is, there have still been no concrete proposals to replace the lost power production. With the advent of local natural gas production in the Marcellus Shale Deposits of the North East and the completion of the Millennium Pipeline to bring the gas to market, there is, in my opinion, a solution to the demand side.
Gas Turbine Plants
Back in the late 1990′s the Southern Companies and later Mirant proposed and won approval for a new Gas Turbine plant with cooling towers to be located at Bowline Point in Haverstraw New York. This plant, called the Bowline Point 3 Generating Plant was actually started and construction was halted only after Mirant went bankrupt, post Enron. Additional Mirant generating capacity was also shuttered when the Lovett Coal fired plant was closed due to the lack of coal scrubbing technology. In total, there has been a net loss of power production in the Hudson Valley over the last decade and replacement power must be identified before Indian Point can be decommissioned. In broad outlines, here is a working proposal.
The Governor and the State of New York would investigate a Public/Private partnership to replace approximately 2000 KW hrs being produced at the Indian Point Nuclear Power plant with 2200 KW hrs. of electricity generated using gas turbines to be constructed at a location such as Bowline Point in Haverstraw. The concept would utilize gas produced in the Southern Tier of New York and transported via the Millennium pipeline to 3 newly constructed gas turbine generators in the Hudson Valley. The plants would utilize cooling towers instead of river intakes, and would would effectively replace the Indian Point generating capacity.
As many already know, the largest impediment to electrical generation is the proximity of the power source to the consumer. Indian Point Plant, in Buchanan, New York is some 37 miles north of New York City on the East Bank of the Hudson. The Bowline plant is five miles south and diagonally across the river from this plant and is already on the grid. A minimum amount of infrastructure work would be needed to bring a new plant on line.
The Indian Point and Bowline Point plants now use river intakes to cool the reactors and make steam, trapping aquatic life in screens on the river, while discharging this heated water back into the river causing other issues. The New Gas Turbines would use cooling towers instead of river discharges to cool the water, and limit the intake exposure by recycling more of the needed water. This would help considerably in the health of the Hudson’s ecosystem.
The State of New York has now become a major player in the production and distribution of Natural Gas. There are many upstate taxpayers that now have an express interest of getting the gas they own to market. There are opportunities now for the State and Local governments to work together to bring this gas to market and I feel that under the current economic conditions, the time is ripe to promote the use of local Natural Gas production.
Bowline Point is located in the Town of Haverstraw New York, on the west shore of the Hudson River. It is now the location of 2 gas/oil fired generating plants built between 1970-1972. These high cost plants rarely operate, typically during peak demand. Now owned by GenOn, the location was approved in the late 1990′s for a gas turbine plant with cooling towers.
In closing, we call on the Governor and the State Legislature to investigate the replacement of the Nuclear Power generated at the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant with new natural gas plants to be sited in the Hudson Valley of New York. We call on the Governor to use the gas produced in the State of New York and transported via the Millennium Pipeline to a location such as Bowline Point in Haverstraw, and to use incentives such as tax concessions and partnerships to make this relationship a reality. We also call on Environmental Activists to explore our solutions and to take ownership of the capacity debate, because the only way to close Indian Point is to replace the production and to replace it in a location that is near the same end users. Bowline Point can really fit the bill.