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NY Nuclear Plant Releases Decommission Plan

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

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Last month, Entergy Nuclear announced a plan for the spring decommissioning services of its Buchanan, New York-based energy center, Indian Point.

The decision comes as part of a settlement where the state of New York has agreed to drop previous legal challenges and support the renewal of plant operating licenses.

About Indian Point

Operating since 1974, the energy center encompasses two nuclear power plants that generate approximately 2,000 megawatts of electricity for various homes and facilities in New York City and Westchester County—roughly 25% of electric power used annually.

According to Entergy, Indian Point Unit 2 began commercial operation in 1974 and Unit 3 followed two years later in 1976. In 2000, Entergy purchased Unit 3 from the New York Power Authority, and the following year, also bought Unit 2—along with the permanently closed Unit 1—from Consolidated Edison.

Daniel Case, CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Last month, Entergy Nuclear announced a plan for the spring decommissioning services of its Buchanan, New York-based energy center, Indian Point.

“Since purchasing the plants 15 years ago, we have invested more than $1.3 billion in safety and reliability improvements,” said Leo Denault, Entergy’s chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “The plants have delivered hundreds of millions of megawatt hours of virtually emissions-free power to the Hudson Valley and New York City safely.”

In January 2017, Entergy announced it would close Unit 2 in April 2020 and Unit 3 in April 2021. The decision had been the result of a settlement agreement with the state of New York, with key considerations being sustained low current and projected wholesale energy prices, increased operating costs and continuing costs for license renewal.

Additionally, other key terms detailing the settlement include:

  • Coastal Zone Management Act Consistency Certification from New York State;
  • Water Quality Certificate and water discharge permits from New York State;
  • Agreement by New York State and primary intervenor Riverkeeper to withdraw legal challenges to license renewal;
  • Entergy will request that the NRC shorten the term of a renewed license for Indian Point from 2033 and 2035 for Units 2 and 3, respectively, to 2024 and 2025.
  • Agreement by Entergy to provide $15 million as part of its continued commitment to community stakeholders and environmental stewardship; and
  • Various inspections of Indian Point conducted by Entergy and New York State, supplemental to NRC inspections.

The following year in September, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced renewal of Indian Point’s operating licenses. Though both units were extended beyond their slated shutdowns, the renewals reportedly ended over 11 years of regulatory review and would not affect the shutdown timeline.

In April 2019, Entergy reached an agreement to sell the energy center to Nuclear Asset Management Co., a subsidiary of Holtec International, in an effort to hasten the plant’s decommissioning.

What’s Happening Now

As reported by Engineering News-Record, Florida-based nuclear manufacturer and services firm Holtec International intends to decommission the three nuclear power units within a 12-15-year timeline.

However, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission still needs to approve the license transfer and sale to Holtec. The goal is that the necessary transfer paperwork will be approved by May 31, 2021, so that decommissioning efforts can begin directly after the 1,080-MW Unit 3 ceases operation on April 30, 2021.

While Unit 1 (a 615-MW unit) was shut down the same year the plant opened, Unit 2 (1,080-MW unit) is expected to close April 30 of this year.

The estimated cost for decommissioning services is $598 million for Unit 1, $702 million for Unit 2 and $1 billion for Unit 3. The total project is expected to cost $2.3 billion and will shave off roughly 60 years from the original timeline.

“Key considerations in our decision to shut down Indian Point ahead of schedule include sustained low current and projected wholesale energy prices that have reduced revenues, as well as increased operating costs,” said Bill Mohl, President of Entergy Wholesale Commodities. “In addition, we foresee continuing costs for license renewal beyond the more than $200 million and 10 years we have already invested.”

In addition to decommission costs, Entergy expects to pay out additional charges totaling approximately $180 million related to severance and employee retention costs through the end of 2021.

Thus far, Holtec has awarded a contract to Comprehensive Decommissioning International—including SNC Lavalin Group—to disassemble the units.

“We thank our nearly 1,000 dedicated employees for operating a world-class nuclear power generating facility at top levels of safety, security and reliability, as well as the community for supporting us,” said Denault.

   

Tagged categories: Building operations; NA; North America; Nuclear Power Plants; Power; Power; Power Plants; Program/Project Management; Project Management; Upcoming projects

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