County Executive’s Corner: Life After Indian Point

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BY ROCKLAND COUNTY EXECUTIVE ED DAY

Critics have been calling for years for the shutdown of the Indian Point nuclear power plant right across from Stony Point in Northern Westchester. Now they have gotten their wish in the form of an announcement from Gov. Cuomo that he and Entergy have brokered a deal to close down the power plant by 2021.

Remember the old saying “Be careful what you wish for?” This may be one of those cases.

Indian Point can produce 2000 megawatts of power, mostly for Westchester and New York City. Here in Rockland we’re part of the same electric grid. That means that without Indian Point, we are losing a big source of relatively inexpensive power. I say relatively because we all know that we already pay some of the highest electric bills in the nation.

My fear is that those bills will only go higher – crippling both homeowners and businesses and stunting economic growth here in Rockland. But maybe part of the solution is right here in our backyard. In North Rockland.

Not long ago, there were two fully operational power plants in North Rockland – one in Stony Point and one in Haverstraw. Now, one is closed and one is functioning far below peak capacity.

Why not look at those locations as part of the answer to producing clean energy in Rockland?

The Bowline facility in Haverstraw is powered by natural gas. There are two plants on the site. Only one is in operation now and it runs at far less capacity than it could. The two Bowline plants can produce more than 1100 megawatts.

But due to the economics of energy production and the lower cost of oil, the plants are functioning well below capacity. Imagine what would happen if that facility was used at full capacity. Rockland would have a new and reliable source of energy, not to mention more jobs.

There are also intriguing possibilities at the old Lovett plant in Stony Point.

This coal-powered plant was closed down because it didn’t make sense financially for its owners to update the facility to meet environmental regulations. No one wants to return to the days of coal-powered plants that blackened out air and choked our lungs.

But the technology has changed. There are ways to make plants like this operate in a clean, environmentally friendly way. With Indian Point on the way out and the need for power increasing, perhaps it would make financial sense now to rebuild a power plant on the Lovett site that operates in an environmentally responsible way.

When Lovett closed, it took $18 million in tax revenue with it. North Rockland knows the pain soon to be felt by Westchester residents. But we think that the Lovett site could be part of a solution. Why not recommission Lovett to create clean, renewable energy?

Siting a power plant is the biggest hurdle to creating new power. These two sites in North Rockland are already approved for power plants. The people of Rockland would certainly appreciate safe, clean, environmentally responsible energy. The people of North Rockland would welcome an addition to the tax base and the jobs it would bring.

Think about the added property tax revenue from these recommissioned plants. That revenue would certainly spell tax relief for the beleaguered residents of North Rockland.

It’s certainly worth thinking about as we consider life after Indian Point.

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