Nuclear power keeps us cool
During last weeks heat wave, New York City broke its all-time record for electricity usage. Although there were power outages in spots, for the most part, Con Ed managed to keep the power flowing and the air conditioners running.
The utility did so by cranking up all of its generating plants and paying its largest customers to reduce their electricity use in order to help keep the lights on.
If a similar heat wave hits the city next summer, we might not be as fortunate.
Simple reason why: One of those generating plants is the Indian Point Energy Center, the 2,083-megawatt nuclear plant located 35 miles north of midtown. Gov. Cuomo insists it be shut down, and he may soon get his wish. The license of Unit 2, one of the plants reactors, expires five months from now, in December. Unit 3s license expires in 2015.
Without Indian Point, its quite possible a heat wave would deliver rolling blackouts throughout the city. Not only would that mean millions of sweating residents, it would endanger the health of the sick and the elderly.
Back in February, Con Ed and the New York Power Authority reported that it would cost $300 million just to prepare for Indian Points closure, paying for more energy-efficiency measures and paying more customers to curtail energy use when demand is greatest. Another $500 million would be needed to build new transmission lines and upgrade others.
Building new transmission lines will not only be expensive; it will take time — time to navigate the inevitable minefield of environmental opposition that springs up to oppose new transmission lines.
What about building new gas-fired generating plants near Gotham? It can be done, but at great expense. And there is the small detail of delivering the gas required through new pipelines, because existing pipelines are already at capacity.
Not only is opposition to new pipelines fierce, so is geography. The bedrock in many parts of Westchester extends to the surface, making underground pipelines exorbitantly expensive.
For an indicator of the cost of building pipelines in the region, consider this: After almost a decade of skirmishing, Spectra Energy finally won approval to expand a gas pipeline into southern Manhattan. The cost of the 20-mile project: $850 million, or more than $40 million per mile.
Of course, critics, including Cuomo, continue to insist Indian Point is a safety problem that can be replaced cheaply and effortlessly. Last month, for example, as part of his “Energy Highway” initiative, the governors office announced $10 million for modernizing New Yorks power grid “to accommodate a diverse supply of power generation sources, including more clean energy, enhance grid performance, reduce environmental impacts and energy consumption and lower costs to customers.”
But $10 million doesnt buy much these days.
Diversity means intermittent wind power from upstate and Quebec, along with hugely expensive offshore wind and some solar power for good measure. They are all expensive and heavily subsidized by taxpayers and New York ratepayers.
Plus, wind has an unfortunate characteristic: When the weather is hottest, the wind doesnt blow and wind turbines sit idle.
Yet somehow, all of that heavily subsidized intermittent generation will mean lower electric bills for New Yorkers?
Last July, the 1,600 megawatts of installed wind capacity generated an average of just 170 megawatts of power, a little over 10% of capacity.
Ultimately, diversity will mean higher electricity bills for “smart grid” technology that will provide the government with the capability to switch off your air conditioner when demand is too great.
So as you swelter again this summer and reach for the switch on your air conditioner, imagine what next summer will be like. Staying cool may not be so easy.
Original Source: http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/hate-indian-point-prepare-swelter-article-1.1410266