The Unit 2 Spent Fuel Pool at Indian Point Nuclear...

The Unit 2 Spent Fuel Pool at Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant in Buchanan. (May 9, 2012) Credit: Faye Murman

If the Indian Point Energy Center were closed, you’d be looking at a roughly $11.5-billion economic impact on the metropolitan area — including an immediate loss of thousands of jobs.

That’s the conclusion of a report published Friday by the Business Council of Westchester, a business membership organization. The report says some of those losses include $200 million in wages, $75 million in property taxes and $374 million in higher electricity costs.

“With certainty, we’re talking about roughly 3,000 jobs lost,” said Howard J. Axelrod, an economist whose report concluded that closing Indian Point devastate the region’s economy. “Closing Indian Point will raise electric prices.”

Some of the other findings are more or less educated guesses, according to Axelrod. Entergy, owner of the plant, is a member of the business council, but its leaders and the author say Entergy played no role in this study.  

Jerry Nappi, a spokesman for Entergy, issued this statement: “Businesses and planners want to be assured that NYC and Westchester will have reliable electricity with stable costs before they invest or expand. It is clear that there become major threats to both" without Indian Point.

Other impacts in Axelrod’s report include:

-- Electric rates would increase by 6.3 percent, with consumers paying more than $374 million more each year in electric bills.

-- Probability of electric outages would increase by 280 percent by 2020 because of the demand placed on other power plants.

-- Lost jobs would translate into about $200 million per year in lost wages.

-- A $75-million decline in local property tax collections (the time period for this loss was not specified).

-- If Indian Point’s energy were instead generated by a shale-gas-burning plant, carbon emissions would increase by more than 6 million tons a year, which Axelrod said is the equivalent of adding 1 million vehicles on our roads.

Axelrod acknowledges there are many unknowns and calculating the ultimate impact throughout the region is “very complex.” But the job losses are a certainty, he said. And the lack of any alternative energy plan for the site further complicates meeting the energy needs of the region.

Indian Point has its share of critics, including Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who’d like the place closed down. However, the plant is regulated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The 40-year-old facility, whose federal licenses are set to expire in a few years, supplies roughly 25 percent of the electricity used in the metropolitan region, including Westchester County.

Even with fierce opposition, there are no advanced plans for pipelines, wind farms or any realistic energy alternatives for the plant, which sits on the east bank of the Hudson River. Without any means to replace the lost energy, it’s hard to imagine that Indian Point will cease operations anytime soon.

Like it or not, the plant is vital to the region’s economy and energy needs, so any loud calls to close it should be accompanied by realistic alternatives to replace the energy.

Pictured above; The Unit 2 Spent Fuel Pool at Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant in Buchanan. (May 9, 2012)

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