As New York works towards its goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050, advocates for nuclear power are calling on officials to consider the role it could play in the state’s transition to cleaner forms of fuel.
Upstate New York is home to four reactors, and supporters argue that nuclear power is an economic engine that provides multi-generational jobs and can be used to generate electricity when wind and solar sources are not available. “If you’re talking about 90% or 100% emission reduction, you need some sort of means of generation for when the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow,” said Isuru Seneviratne, a member of the steering committee of the advocacy group Nuclear New York.
However, concerns have been raised about the costs for consumers and businesses. A recent report found that natural gas usage and costs have increased in the New York City area since the closure of the Indian Point nuclear reactors. “Gas generation facilities fueled by fossil fuels in New York City was at 69%,” said John Murphy of the United Association Plumbers, Pipefitters and Sprinklerfitters. “With the closing of Indian Point, it went to 94%.” Gavin Donohue of the Independent Power Producers of New York argues that the costs for consumers are not being fully thought out with the energy transition. “Electricity costs in the Hudson Valley and New York City probably would have gone down because the electricity would be more efficient,” he said. “And the sad part of it is people are being exposed to more pollution when they shouldn’t have to be.”
Lawmakers are being urged to ensure that the energy transition in the coming decades does not hurt consumers. “We have not allowed in the state, starting with Governor Cuomo, now with Governor Hochul, we’re not allowed to re-power these facilities to make them cleaner and more affordable,” said Donohue. The clean energy push has led to tensions as different groups advocate for their preferred energy sources.
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