The Northern Westchester Examiner

Experts Outline Challenges Ahead with Indian Point Closure

We are part of The Trust Project


Local municipal and school officials must plan for the future without the existence of the Indian Point nuclear power plants as if no financial or planning assistance is being provided by higher government or elsewhere.

That was part of the message delivered by a pair of experts in the field of studying local and regional socioeconomic impacts of nuclear power plants closing to the Cortlandt Community Unity Indian Point Task Force last week.

“Act like help is not on the way. Be ready for unexpected opportunities,” said Jennifer Stromsten, program director for the Institute for Nuclear Host Communities. “This is sort of a reimagining moment. You really have to learn what you can affect and plan accordingly.”

In early January, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Entergy (owners of the nuclear plants) and Riverkeeper stunned local officials when they announced Indian Point would close in April 2021 since it was no longer profitable enough for Entergy.

The announcement sent immediate financial shockwaves since Entergy is a major funding source, providing 33% of annual revenue to the Hendrick Hudson School District, 46% to the Village of Buchanan, 64% to the Verplanck Fire Department. 28% to the Hendrick Hudson Free Library, 2% to the Town of Cortlandt and 1% to Westchester County.

“We didn’t get the memo,” a still irritated Cortlandt Supervisor Linda Puglisi remarked at the meeting about being blindsided. “We’re all in this together. We’re trying to think of anything we can do.”

Cortlandt receives approximately $800,000 annually from Entergy. The Cortlandt Town Board voted earlier this year to set aside $100,000 from the town’s reserve fund to start planning for the loss in revenue.

State Assemblywoman Sandra Galef (D/Ossining) noted lawmakers in Albany established a reserve fund of $40 million but that pot of money is available for all municipalities throughout the state experiencing financial hardship.

“This fund is intended to tie everything over,” Galef said.

Stromsten said even though the Nuclear Regulatory Commission with oversee Indian Point’s exit as an operating entity, the federal government has no policy regarding closure of nuclear power plants.

“The NRC closes power plants by running its regulatory script in reverse,” she said. “We don’t have top-down planning in this country.”

Reuse of the site, which sits on the edge of the Hudson River in the Village of Buchanan, is a key that the task force must focus on, Stromsten stressed. Spent fuel rods that will remain on the property in dry cask storage could become hurdle in the redevelopment of the land, said Jonathan Cooper, research director for the institute, which is located in Massachusetts.

“It’s a critical resource that you have to fight for your community,” Stromsten said. “It’s a long game.”

Entergy is scheduled to appear before the task force May 18 at Cortlandt Town Hall. On May 31, also in Cortlandt, the first New York State Task Force meeting regarding Indian Point’s departure will be chaired by the Public Service Commission. Both meetings are open to the public.

We'd love for you to support our work by joining as a free, partial access subscriber, or by registering as a full access member. Members get full access to all of our content, and receive a variety of bonus perks like free show tickets. Learn more here.