The Indian Point Closure Task Force met for the first time last week to discuss the next steps in handling the many impacts the nuclear plant will have in the surrounding communities when it closes in 2021.
The task force, comprised of state, local and labor representatives, gathered at Cortlandt Town Hall to deliberate how they will provide guidance and support to the communities, taxing jurisdictions and employees affected by the planned closure of the 240-acre site.
“With the four years that we have, this task force is convenient and we have an opportunity to plan for an orderly transition,” said Tom Congdon, Deputy Chairman with the Department of Public Service. “I am a true believer in collaboration. I think we have the right people on this task force that will help this region and the employees transition for a future without Indian Point.”
In January, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Entergy and Riverkeeper stunned officials and the public when it was announced Indian Point, located in the Village of Buchanan, would cease operations in 2021.
The announcement sent immediate shockwaves throughout the area since Entergy is major funding source, providing 33 percent of annual revenue to the Hendrick Hudson School District, 46 percent to the Village of Buchanan, 64 percent to the Verplanck Fire Department, 28 percent to the Hendrick Hudson Free Library, two percent to the Town of Cortlandt and one percent to Westchester County.
“We have a lot of work to do, there’s a lot at stake here,” State Senator Terrence Murphy (R-Yorktown) said at the May 31 meeting. “We need to stay on top of this.”
As part of the settlement agreement with the state and Riverkeeper, Entergy agreed to commit $15 million, starting in 2020, to local communities for environmental protection and a community benefit fund to help offset the loss in revenue.
Murphy also aided in starting a reserve fund for the Hendrick Hudson School District starting this year to help the school transition once the plant closes.
“I have become increasingly optimistic about what life looks like after Indian Point,” said Joseph Hochreiter, Superintendent of Hendrick Hudson School District. “Very talented and committed people are working on this matter and they are working very seriously and diligently.”
Members of the task force also feel with the loss of over 1,200 union jobs, Entergy needs to take care of their workers by providing job opportunities and other options.
“These people have been loyal to Entergy since they bought the site and I hope that Entergy is loyal to those folks on keeping that work on a local level and remain dedicated to helping these people out,” said Tom Carey, president of the Westchester-Putnam Central Labor Body AFL-CIO.
Officials stated that workers would remain employed until the shutdown with Entergy offering jobs at other facilities outside of the state. Exelon Nuclear will also provide employment opportunities and state utilities will offer worker-retraining programs to place personnel into New York State utility jobs.
A rapid response team will also be on site providing individual career counseling in order to provide an employment plan for every individual.
With approximately 40 percent of employees eligible for retirement at the proposed date of closure, employment impacts will mitigate overtime, said Mario Musolino, Executive Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Labor.
With Indian Point generating at least 2,083 MegaWatts of power, Congdon said there are at least seven known projects throughout the region consisting of 4,630 MW that will supplement the nuclear plants loss of energy.
“When you look at the full sweep of options from a reliability standpoint, the public service commission are very confident that there will not be negative reliability impacts associated with the closure,” Congdon added.
A Request for Proposal (RFP) will also be issued to seek a national expert on nuclear decommissioning. This expert will advise on potential options and timelines and identify reuse and redevelopment opportunities.
Entergy has set aside $1.78 billion in a decommissioning trust fund for the three units comprised within the nuclear plant. One facility has been closed for years, while the second is scheduled to undergo its final refueling and maintenance outage next spring before it permanently shuts down by April 30, 2020. The third unit received its second-to-last refueling outage recently, returning to service in May.
Entergy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission have not yet made a final determination on the ultimate decommissioning approach for the three nuclear plants.
“I am encouraged by the amount of resources that are currently available for us that normally we wouldn’t have,” Buchanan Mayor Theresa Knickerbocker said. “I am ready to roll up my sleeves and get going.”
The task force will meet again on September 28.