With the possibility of Indian Point Energy Center closing and the potential for a strong economic recovery, New York City needs to be prepared to add enough electric generating capacity to prevent blackouts and price spikes, according to a recently released New York Building Congress report.
The report, Electricity Outlook: Powering New York City Through 2030, concludes that current in-city generation and transmission capacity is sufficient to meet the city’s electrical needs through 2015 but that 1,000 megawatts of capacity needs to be added between 2014 and 2016, in addition to projects currently in the works to meet future needs. The group says that 1,100 MW of electric-generating capacity is expected to be added within the next year, with 700 megawatts to be added by 2015. Additionally, an electrical transmission line that will run under the Hudson River is expected to be completed by 2013.
Since the last analysis reported by the NYBC in 2005, two transmission facilities have been completed and 1,320 MW of generating and transmission capacity has been added. The new facilities and the Hudson River line are expected to add 1,310 megawatts to the in-city supply.
However, a separate report issued in April by the New York Independent System Operator says that if demand grows as currently forecast, “it will take at least 10 years for a capacity need to occur, assuming planned additions occur and there are no unplanned retirements.”
NYBC Energy Committee chairman John Gilbert says he believes that NYISO’s report shows only a best-case scenario and that precautions still need to be taken. The NYBC report says that besides potential closure of Indian Point Energy Center and economic growth, other risks include the unplanned retiring of power plants due to pending state and federal environmental legislation that would limit certain emissions and pollutants and impact more than half of the city’s generating capacity, as recognized by the NYISO report.
“Rather than allowing ourselves to be lulled into a false sense of security, we need to be prepared in advance should Indian Point be shut down or should we be fortunate enough to experience stronger economic growth than predicted over the next five years,” Gilbert says. “Such scenarios are a distinct possibility and must be factored into any discussion of future energy needs.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo has expressed continuous determination to close Indian Point.
“Whether you agree with his viewpoint or not, his [Cuomo’s] intentions must be taken seriously,” adds NYBC president Richard T. Anderson. “At the same time, no one should fall under the illusion that Indian Point can shut down prior to the creation of new generating sources.” Moving a new power plant or transmission line through the regulatory, financing and construction process is timely and needs to be started now, he adds.