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NY carbon emissions soar after shutdown of Indian Point nuclear plant

image credit: NRC.gov
Bob Meinetz's picture
Nuclear Power Policy Activist Independent

I am a passionate advocate for the environment and nuclear energy. With the threat of climate change, I’ve embarked on a mission to help overcome the fears of nuclear energy. I’ve been active in...

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"New York’s in-state electricity generation was 46 percent higher per unit of energy in its first full month after the closure of Indian Point Nuclear Plant, compared to before the shutdown began, according to a new Environmental Progress analysis. The state also emitted 37 percent more carbon dioxide from electricity generation on an absolute basis.

In May 2021, New York generated 9.3 terawatt-hours of electricity at an average carbon intensity of 119 kilograms per megawatt-hour. May was the first full month after a two year process of shutting down Indian Point’s two 1.0 GW reactors. The first was disconnected from the grid on April 30, 2020, and the second on April 30, 2021. In May 2019, a typical month for New York electricity demand, the state generated 9.9 TWh of electricity at an average carbon intensity of 172 kilograms per MWH.  

Change in Share of New York Electricity Mix, May 2019-May 2021.png

The EP analysis also found that Indian Point’s share of New York electricity was completely replaced by fossil fuels, with the share of New York’s generation from fossil fuels rising by 14 percentage points, from 30.5 percent to 44.5 percent, between 2019 and 2021. This is accounted for by a 12 percentage point drop in the nuclear share, from 38.7 percent to 26.5 percent, as well as a 2 percentage point drop in hydroelectricity share. As a result, New York’s share of electricity generation from fossil fuels was its highest since 2016."

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Christopher Neely's picture
Christopher Neely on Jun 23, 2021

Enlightening though obvious if the state wasn't prepared with renewables when it shut down its nuclear plants. It seems that as nuclear has a renaissance in other parts of the the world, the U.S. continues to pull back its own resources. To me, these numbers show there is more pressure to shut down nuclear in the U.S. than there is to build renewables. 

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Bob Meinetz on Jun 23, 2021

"To me, these numbers show there is more pressure to shut down nuclear in the U.S. than there is to build renewables. "

I agree, Christopher. There are tens of $millions in natural gas influence being spent in state governments to keep the pressure on.

New York will be following in California's footsteps: after promising it would be replaced with renewables in 2012, California's corrupt Public Utility Commission replaced San Onofre with imported coal and gas-fired electricity, hidden behind the label of "unspecified sources of power". Thereafter it was gradually replaced by in-state gas generation (up 34% in 2013).

This chart from Southern California Edison says it all:

The direction of energy policy is not determined by public opinion or in state legislatures anyway, but in the boardrooms of Shell, Chevron, and BP - and for oil majors there was no doubt how to proceed. If nuclear has the potential to put them out of business and renewables will guarantee them an unlimited future, what's to decide?

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