New York Shuts Nuclear Reactor in April and Mayor Asks for Power Rationing in June

The Indian Point Energy Center (Indian Point) generated reliable electricity for the New York State. Indian Point permanently stopped generating electricity on April 30, 2021, when it retired its last operating nuclear reactor, Unit 3, earlier than originally planned. The Indian Point nuclear power plant began operations in 1962 and produced over 565 terawatthours (TWh) of electricity in the 59 years it was open. The Unit 3 retirement removes almost 1,040 megawatts (MW) of nuclear-generating capacity from New York State, leaving about 3,200 MW of remaining nuclear capacity at three plants in upstate New York.

If only New York City had an extra 24 Gigawatt hours of reliable electricity every day from something like a nuclear power plant. This would be enough to run one million air conditioners for 9 hours during the hottest part of the day.

Written By Brian Wang,

71 thoughts on “New York Shuts Nuclear Reactor in April and Mayor Asks for Power Rationing in June”

  1. All US nuclear power plants are designed to load follow up to 5% of nameplate capacity per minute from 50-100%; 2%/min from 20-50%. The electricity markets do not incentivize reducing nuclear production.

  2. New Yorkers wanted to help the world melt those Arctic ice caps, nuclear energy is very low Carbon,shutting the two plants so more coal and natural gas is used is key in melting the ice.

  3. I know. We have a political elite for whom party affiliation, family connections and political orthodoxy are far more important than mere competence. (In fact, I'm thinking that competence and ability are barely registering on the list of 'desirable' traits for office once you get past a certain point.)

    We have a LOT of people in office who are terribly oversensitive to however the political wind of the moment blows. Defund the police? Sure! Who CARES about the long-term effects of that? The feelings of the moment override anything else.

    Gun violence? It's perhaps not lost on you that the places with the strictest gun laws have the most gun violence, while the areas where the people are legally allowed to own firearms have much less. Gangs are a VERY bad problem in Democratically controlled cities, much less in Republican controlled ones.

    (Shrug.) The problem is that the Democratic party's pushed itself as the 'compassionate' party, and their opposition as heartless, uncaring, and evil. So they'll say anything to stay in power – no matter the cost.

    I don't see it ending well.

  4. New nukes are pricey in the US. Doesn't have to be that way. But that's besides the point. Indian Point was already paid for. How much was saved by shutting it down?

  5. This is the same Cuomo that, when it came time to rebuild the historic Tappan Zee bridge, an iconic name with roots in pre-colonial times, he weaseled and renamed it for his father, making it the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge.

    Someday he won't be governor anymore, and the push to change the name back, already in progress, should find its feet. Everyone still calls it the Tappan Zee anyway, regardless of what the governor would prefer.

  6. Maybe, but social degeneration takes toll and systems work for a long time after their fundamentals have been destroyed-inertia. And then BOOM they collapse. What I read is NOT NORMAL. Every media in every country is the way you described it. But news that are bad, coming from my country, are about tornadoes, some random bureaucrat hogging 700k in cash, and weird party with prostitutes. I do not read about mass homeless invasion, 40% of businesses being closed and never re-opened, mass gun violence and gang crime, disbanding the police and not replacing it with anything, riots that costs billions upon billions of dollars, skyrocketing debt… Dude, we also have droughts here, heat waves etc. but there is no massive failure of infrastructure because of that. And my country is corrupt AF, its post-communist. Yet I cannot FATHOM at the level of collapse observed in the US. There is something rotten in the state of America. Your trajectory for the 3rd year in a row is south. Like, REALLY south.

  7. Nuclear isn't that expensive if you're permitted to build it expeditiously on a sensible schedule. What makes it expensive is getting 90% of the way through a build, and the NRC pushes through a new regulation, and suddenly you have you rip stuff up and replace it. Over and over.

    The debt carrying costs eat you alive if you're not permitted to finish building the plant on a reasonable schedule.

  8. Maybe they sit around managing the nuclear waste for thousands of years. Every decade or so they set up a working committee to recommend a permanent waste disposal facility. Then they don't implement it. When the work from that dies away set up a new study to repeat the process.
    See, it's perfectly sustainable for at least 5 halflives of plutonium.

  9. Do I need to post links of graphs showing how quickly is battery capacity growing vs fusion generation?

  10. As a Physics guy, one of the *sure things* in life is that RF photons can do no *work* in an IR photon environment, like, water temp. Yet, there seems to be more openness, in my limited feedback, to SPS overall. The significant number could be the right *one*.

  11. It's simple.

    A more efficient grid shows up on quarterly and yearly reports. The person in charge can point to reduced cost, reduced CO2 output, increased profit.

    Nobody can point to a catastrophic collapse that will occur 10 years from now, because it hasn't happened yet.

    It's a well known problem that applies to just about any complex system. The usual methods of solving the problem are

    1. Skin in the game. Senior decisionmakers get some proportion of their income in a form that doesn't vest until X years in the future, where it will depend on the system having remained stable and successful over time. This doesn't seem to be a stable solution unless the senior decisionmakers remain in their positions over that time, otherwise they will be motivated to cash out, somehow, at the peak of short term spike in value. Or they can have their assets destroyed by the decisions made by their replacements.
    2. Insurance. The system is insured against failure. The insurance provider is now motivated to demand premiums proportional to risks. Hence lower risks gives lower premiums, which is clearly visible on the yearly numbers. Which is where it needs to be.

    Insurance seems like the approach to adopt here, but we've seen that insurance ecosystems themselves can suffer from short term viewpoints that drastically underprice risk in order to get short term profits that flow through to the insurance agents.
    But at least there, people are actually thinking about risk.

  12. I always tell the microwave people to worry more about cell phones.

    Do they listen?

    I mean, Brian is telling people to worry more about coal than nukes. But so far this hasn't changed a significant number of minds.

  13. That's working great in California, where solar plummets at sundown, but AC demand carries on into the evening – or even all night in these heat waves.

  14. 'It was 60 years old' -No, only 45 years since Unit 3 started up. Since pressurised water reactors can easily be maintained to last for eighty, and we're in a climate emergency, shutting them is criminal.

  15. agreed. The 2020s are shaping up to be miserable – pandemic, power and material shortages, remote infrastructure hacking, and bleeding-heart liberal resurgence to a less-is-more economical mindset…

  16. What you see are the worst stories, the outliers. Our media thrives on a simple idea – "What bleeds, leads the news." Bad news, horrible headlines gets people's attentions, gets them clicking into the story, gets people concerned, which means they'll CONTINE clicking on related stories. And clicks keep the media businesses going.

    You rarely see good stories about any issue, about the problems we solve, about people working together – because THOSE don't generate revenue.

    Can't keep the lights on without clicks – so everything is terrible, all the time.

  17. There are two strands here, the microwaves and the *solution* aspect. I always tell the microwave people to worry more about cell phones. The other problem is that there are people who have grown accustomed to having the truth about the environment. It is that you have to obey them. Solve the climate problem short term with Space Solar and other problems long term with other orbital mfg and mining, O'Neill Settlements depopulating Earth, and they are left powerless. They are alarmed at the prospect of building places to live in Space.

  18. A solved problem is worthless to a traditional politician, while being able to promise a solution keeps them in office.

    So they'll promise everything, and provide the barest minimum to keep going.

  19. The people's choices are for more comfort and better living. You cannot get a mass uprising demanding better when the people you want rising up are well fed, well housed, and well entertained instead of dissatisfied with their lives. Jobs? Gotta destroy those, or make people so resentful that they won't take what's offered. Supply chains? Let's just blow those up, 'k? Through shortages, artificial or otherwise. Comfort? Take away electrical power and air conditioning comes to a stop. So do the TVs, computers, internet, electric vehicles, and you'll get to a point where even charging a cell phone'll be a major event.

    Ideology and adherence to a narrative of scarcity is vastly preferable to competence in management and the ability to think ahead, and get the groundwork laid to solve possible problems.

  20. Good job Brian! Yeah New Yorkers, keep voting for those Leftist Ideologues! Clearly, you like "limiting your lifestyle" for them, and let's not forget the ridiculously high (and artificial) price of gas… Well, for that matter – the ridiculously high and artificial price of everything in Left Wing run regions. Price of gas in Idaho: $3.50 Price of electricity in Idaho 8.6 cent per KWH… Average rent in New York $3500.00. In Tennessee $941.00 for a 3 Bedroom! – Blue states voters must love being poor…

  21. 80s tech that the environmental lobby SCREAMED bloody murder about. Transmitting power via microwaves would kill flocks of birds, and anyone who wandered into the area would likely broil. This, to them, was an unassailable result of what they hated.

    It never mattered what the truth was. It won't matter what this can do either…

  22. Im not american. Since 2018 more and more news from the USA sound like news from India, Nigeria or Brazil. It doesn't read like news from powerhouse of the world, leading in development, technology, human rigts and rationality. It reads like corrupt cesspool on a brink of collapse. This is bizarre, because I know fundamental data from this country and they are just stellar. By all accounts the US should be thriving, especially in the upcoming decades. But what I read are stories of infrastructure collapse, social degeneration, insitutional neglect, corruption,and mental retardation of general population. I thinky you are done guys. It was nice to have you. So long!

  23. It's worse than no one paying attention. The people in the driver's seat are doing this deliberately. They've got an agenda of crashing the grid to force radical local self-sufficiency, and of raising energy costs to force reduced consumption.

    It's like deliberately degrading the roadways, "road diets", to try to get people to stop driving. The people in charge don't just look like they're trying to run things into the ground, they ARE trying to run things into the ground, because they don't like the way people chose to live if they're given a choice.

  24. The only states with electricity federalism are Hawaii, Texas, and I think Alaska. The rest are tied into the national grid, and that means NY making their own mistakes means other states suffer for it, too.

    Personally, I think they've gone way too overboard in the effort to wring the last little bit of efficiency out of the system by unifying it, and throwing away the resilience. I WISH we had a grid where, if NY went down, it didn't spread.

    We don't, anymore.

  25. So the bar was low and they still couldn't clear it. NY's population is declining too.

  26. The wind farm opens in 2023, no idea of if it will actually produce power on all of the hot days.

  27. True the NRC is run by people who hate nuclear power but eventually they need to build some new reactors or the NRC manages itself out of a job. At a certain point in time Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy dictates that the Bureaucracy will do what it must to survive.

  28. The answer is federalism and letting NY make its mistakes so that other states can learn from them.

  29. This is what Heinlein would have termed "bad luck". What a politician calls an easily predictable consequence of a poor decision.

  30. Your conclusion does not follow from your premise. Given that nuclear plants should run at near capacity for economic reasons, and as such are best used to provide power for the baseline load, that allows power providers to use other plants which have excess capacity, to ramp up during peaks in demand. Otherwise, as NYC demonstrates – again – you have to run the generators which have the ability to ramp up to meet demand at a higher capacity, thus reducing your reserve capacity to meet demand peaks. In short, power is in a sense fungible, it doesn't matter where it comes from as long as you have capacity to meet demand.

  31. Someone needs to start keeping tabs on the temperature in Mayor Bill de Blasio's offices and homes (and anywhere else he spends a lot of time). So far as we know, his hypocrisy knows no bounds.

  32. Power costs are ramping up here in SC, too, on account of the nuke plant expansion being canceled after most of the money had already been spent. But at least they didn't shut down an already operating nuclear plant, they just forced us to pay for one that would never go online.

    Much of the problem is the NRC perpetually ordering last minute changes, so that nothing can be completed on schedule. Nuclear power is one of the rare cases of an industry's regulatory agency being captured by the industry's foes, not the industry itself.

  33. The problem is that "we" aren't making the choices anymore. The lunatics are in charge of the asylum. And I don't know how we put them back in their padded rooms short of a revolution, because they ARE in charge now, and have an awful lot of power to hold onto that position.

  34. I was tempted to ask if there's a Darwin Award for states (or maybe for nations).
    But realistically only a handful of people will die from this if they get blackouts this summer, and it probably won't be the same people that were behind the decision to shut down the power plant. So it probably isn't a good analogy.

  35. It should be you get what you voted for. Except it looks like no-one ever really voted these mugs into power in the first place.
    Best clean up your electoral process.

  36. i saw where they are going to replace the nuke with three new gas fired plants. I googled this curious as to where these would be located. Cuomo and the NY press have been promising this plant will be replaced with solar energy. I cannot understand the need for conservation by the nyc mayor.

  37. We are fortunate that 50% of the offices in NYC are still closed because of Covid, so the demand for electricity is limited.

  38. Cuomo is extremely corrupt, but it is true that every time a nuclear plant is shut down it is because of the millions of dollars in bribes paid by natural gas. This is true world wide, just follow the money. Every anti nuclear poster is either paid by fossil fuel company or is working unpaid.

  39. Nuclear has never been expensive, the utility with the lowest prices in the US which has the lowest rates,Southrern,gets its lowest cost electricity for a nuclear plant. People object to nuclear because they work for natural gas companies.

  40. The military has two Space Solar efforts, but Earth to Earth merely requires a screen in orbit. The decades have already passed, we should already have it. 80s tech.

  41. This looks like the most plausible future. However, it is still few decades in the future…

  42. While it is harder to make a nuke plant demand following it quite possible. However, since the nukes are quite pricey, you want to use them at 100% capacity as much as possible. Is is that simple. Until dimensions bytes the bullet and invests a few billions an a newer and more efficient reactor design ( not power point ones) nuclear is too expensive, for whatever reason.

  43. Nuclear power plants, like coal-fired plants, cannot be ramped up and down to follow the daily peaks and valleys of electricity demand. They provide "baseline" power. Indian Point provided a steady power of about 1 GW. That was indeed sufficient to supply 1 kW to each of about 1 million window-mounted air conditioners (or 4 kW to each of about a quarter million central air conditioning units). However, insofar as those air conditioners were only operated part of the day, resulting in a spike in demand above baseline, Indian Point could not respond. It is therefore misleading to suggest that Indian Point ever helped the greater metropolitan NYC area meet its air-conditioning needs. Natural gas "peaker" plants were used to meet such spikes in peak and seasonal demand and will continue to meet this need. To be clear, I would have liked to have seen Indian Point continue operations. It has been replaced by efficient combined-cycle gas generation systems which are optimized for baseline power generation. Baseline need will be satisfied, but at the cost of increasing NYS average CO2 emissions by several percent in the next few years. Thankfully, more efficient, lower cost, and more reliable battery energy storage systems are on the way.

  44. Andrew Cuomo's father, Mario Cuomo, was also governor of New York state, and got a lot of political capital from allying with the movement to shut down the Shoreham reactor on Long Island, before it could even start up, by refusing to OK emergency evacuation plans. Indian Point was mostly attacked for being too dangerous, though Robert Kennedy Jr's Riverkeeper crowd reckoned its water cooling killed fish. The reactor is being replaced by three gas plants. Andrew Cuomo's longtime principal aide was indicted for taking bribes from one of the gas companies – Competitive Power Ventures.

  45. I can see that it is heavily implied that the nuke was shut down for political, not technical, reasons. But is this actually so?

    Stupid people do stupid thing: Suffer exactly the consequences that anyone would predict.

    It's such a convenient story that it's actually a bit suspicious.

  46. There isn't a windfarm on Earth with a similar output – 24/7 gigawatt power. As the Texas authorities said after their last blackouts, it didn't matter that so many of their wind farms were frozen solid, because they expected bupkis off them anyway at that time of year.

  47. Last week officials urged Texans to avoid using large appliances to ease grid strain, if only they too had not retired all those coal plants.

    It was 60 years old, you'll get over it.

  48. As if they were to shut down a wind farm with a similar output without proper replacement it would have gone down smoothly.

  49. This exact thing happened in CA with the shutting down of their last nuke plant [Devil's Canyon?].
    It's like no one is paying attention.

  50. Boy I bet that 2GW of energy right in to NY’s grid sounds pretty good right now.

    Can we please stop listening to the environmentalists when it comes to power and utility grids and reliability? They are clueless ideologues.

  51. not likely to overtake the expected increase in new EVs coming online, AC regs, and possible fires/ outages in the power distribution corridors throughout the NE states.

  52. Quebec has excess power – provided the dams aren't too low this year — and well, hopefully the eastern seaboard grid doesn't go out like in the early 2000s or gets hacked like Colonial this Spring….
    Utility wargames of the 2020s….

  53. well at least they waited until a month before the 'dog days' of august air conditioning season. Mad rush on window shakers coming. Expect some 110F days, methinks. Gets kinda humid up there, ne?

  54. It should have been shut down only after a modern efficient and cleaner nuclear plant was installed elsewhere on the grid to make up for it. You can thank our clown governor Cuomo when the power goes out.

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