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Renewables May Soon Be Ready to Replace Nuclear Power in New York

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PHOTO: Opponents of nuclear power say a major accident at Indian Point Energy Center would endanger the lives of millions of New Yorkers who live within 25 miles of the plant. Photo credit: Peretz Partensky/Wikimedia Commons.
PHOTO: Opponents of nuclear power say a major accident at Indian Point Energy Center would endanger the lives of millions of New Yorkers who live within 25 miles of the plant. Photo credit: Peretz Partensky/Wikimedia Commons.
 By Andrea Sears - Producer, Contact
August 6, 2015

NEW YORK – New York state could soon be generating enough renewable energy to replace the nuclear power produced at the 40-year-old Indian Point Energy Center in Westchester County.

This week, Governor Cuomo celebrated the "topping off" of construction of Solar City, a factory in Buffalo expected to make enough solar panels each year to produce 1,000 megawatts of power.

Tim Judson, executive director of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, says Solar City could be a "game-changer."

"This factory in Buffalo is going to produce enough solar panels to equal half of Indian Point every year, which is the largest solar factory, probably in the world, at this point," he says.

A 2012 study found improved energy efficiency and renewable energy sources could replace Indian Point by 2022. Judson says with the state ramping up its renewable energy programs, that time could be even sooner.

Entergy, the company that owns Indian Point, calls nuclear power "clean energy" – and notes the plant employs about 1,000 full-time workers.

Entergy has asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to extend Indian Point's expiring operating licenses for another 20 years, but opponents say it isn't needed. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio recently announced the city – which uses power equivalent to one-quarter of the plants' output – will receive all its energy from renewable sources within a few years.

Judson says the New York City Council is also poised to pass a resolution opposing the license extensions.

"New York City government shifting to renewable energy is a great first step in ensuring Indian Point will close, and that it'll be replaced with truly clean energy sources," says Judson.

Opponents of nuclear power are calling the EPA's Clean Power Plan, released on Monday, a victory because it removed a provision that would have allowed states to count existing nuclear power plants toward their clean energy goals.

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