New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) on Jan. 9 announced that the Indian Point nuclear power plant, sited about 30 miles north of New York City, will close by 2021. He cited concern that the plant, owned by Entergy Corp., has had nine leaks in the past year alone. But company officials pointed to the deteriorating economics of the 1970s-era facility, particularly falling energy prices, high operating costs and relicensing that already has cost the firm $200 million.

“For 15 years, I have been deeply concerned by the continuing safety violations at Indian Point,” Cuomo said in a statement. “This administration has been aggressively pursuing and incentivizing the development of clean, reliable energy, and the state is fully prepared to replace the power generated by the plant at a negligible cost to ratepayers.” Bill Mohl, Entergy commodities president, said, “The decision to shut down the plant was ours alone, due to economics. New York state did not shut down Indian Point.”

Under the agreement, the plant must close one unit as early as April 2020 and another one year later. Leading up to the shutdown, spent fuel rods will be sent to on­site dry-cask storage at a minimum rate of four casks a year. Refueling of all bolts will be inspected to ensure the reactors’ safety until closure. Mohl said Entergy would make “every investment required to continue safe operation.” Shutdown will come more than a decade sooner than what was sought under a federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission relicensing, which Entergy has had underway since 2007. But deadlines may extend to 2024 and 2025 if the state fails to find an energy replacement by 2021. Entergy also must set up a $15-million fund for environmental protection projects.

Regulators’ contingency plan for Indian Point, other planning efforts and the state push for renewable energy (see story, p. 14) ensure that more than adequate replacement power will be able to come on line.