It appears all major hurdles have been cleared to pave the way for the transfer of ownership of the Indian Point nuclear power plants in Buchanan.
Last week, it was announced a provisional agreement had been reached between the New York State, environmental organizations, government agencies, Entergy, the current owner of the plants, Holtec International, which will oversee the decommissioning, and other interested parties for the swift and safe cleanup of the site.
The comprehensive settlement is now being sent to the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC), which is slated to vote on the proposal on May 13.
“We are pleased to have reached a comprehensive and equitable agreement relative to the prompt decommissioning of Indian Point with the many stakeholders who were involved in the process,” said Leo Denault, Entergy’s chairman and CEO.
“Holtec is pleased to have found common ground and reached consensus with the State of New York, and the interested parties, on a joint petition that supports the prompt, safe and efficient decommissioning of Indian Point,” said Holtec’s president and CEO Dr. Kris Singh. “Our commitment to be a good neighbor and shared goal of protecting the health and safety of the public and the environment, were key to reaching agreement on a number of issues. This joint proposal provides for additional financial assurance, oversight as well as environmental protections that serve to mitigate the risk and protect the interests of the local communities and citizens of New York.”
The last remaining operating unit at the facility is scheduled to cease operations by Apr. 30.
In 2017, Entergy, New York State and Riverkeeper stunned local officials when they announced the two operating nuclear reactors at Indian Point would close. Unit 2 powered down last April.
In November 2019, Entergy and Holtec filed an application for license transfer with the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). In January 2020, the NRC announced that it was considering approval of an application by Entergy to transfer the Indian Point license – and the facility’s trust funds to pay for decommissioning – to Holtec to implement the facility’s decommissioning. NRC approved the sale last November.
This joint agreement regarding the proposed license transfer is intended to ensure that adequate funds are available to complete the project subject to state oversight. Under the agreement, Holtec is required to adhere to financial and administrative provisions, including:
- Maintaining a minimum balance of no less than $400 million in the Decommissioning Trust Fund for 10 years following the transaction closing date;
- Maintaining a minimum balance of no less than $360 million in the Decommissioning Trust Fund at partial site release from the NRC for costs related to waste management and radiological cleanup of the site;
- Requiring Holtec to return 50 percent of the money it recovers from the Department of Energy for spent fuel management costs to the Decommissioning Trust Fund;
- Conducting site restoration and remediation under an order on consent with the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), which will oversee the hazardous materials cleanup at Indian Point, including through the use of an on-site monitor;
- Providing funds for state and local emergency management and response; and
- Providing financial and project reporting to the state and the public through a website and other channels to ensure transparency regarding project status and costs.
Per additional agreement terms, the state attorney general’s office, Riverkeeper, the Town of Cortlandt and the Hendrick Hudson School District will withdraw their lawsuits against the NRC, which are currently pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
Last Monday, the Cortlandt Town Board voted on a Memorandum of Understanding to continue its Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) arrangement from Entergy to Holtec that will guarantee the town receives $809,000 in 2022 and $550,000 in 2023. Cortlandt has been receiving $809,000 annually from the PILOT.
“It’s not the end of the game. It’s just the beginning,” said Councilman James Creighton. “Hopefully we can agree on a long-term pilot in the near future.”
Meanwhile, Holtec has agreed to provide job opportunities for more than 300 of Entergy’s current employees at Indian Point and honor the collective bargaining agreements that apply to about 1,000 workers at the facility.