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NYISO launches reliability study of Indian Point nuclear plant's closure

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New York's grid operator is determining whether the slated shutdown of Entergy Corp.'s 2,078-MW Indian Point nuclear power plant will result in a reliability need.

The New York ISO announced Aug. 7 that it has begun to analyze the impact the planned deactivations of the plant's two reactors will have on the power grid. Plant operator Entergy agreed in January to a deal with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, under which Unit 2 would be deactivated in May 2020 followed by Unit 3 by May 2021.

In its assessment, NYISO will examine current load forecasts, transmission security and resource adequacy. In addition, the ISO will consider whether existing resources and new resources that have met certain developmental milestones can meet forecast power needs over a five-year study period. NYISO expects to issue the analysis in late 2017.

The agreement to shut down New York's largest nuclear plant was struck after the State Court of Appeals in November 2016 ruled that Indian Point's federal relicensing application is subject to state review. The Cuomo administration had long opposed the relicensing of Indian Point over perceived safety risks that the Westchester County facility poises to New York City, which is located about 50 miles downstream on the Hudson River.

The retirement deal will allow Indian Point Unit 2 and Unit 3 to continue to operate until 2024 and 2025, respectively, if the grid operator determines continued operations are needed to ensure grid reliability and the state and Entergy can reach an agreement.

The Cuomo administration is pushing to replace half of Indian Point's capacity by scaling up renewable energy, boosting energy efficiency measures in buildings and importing 1,000 MW of emission-free hydropower from Canada via Transmission Developers Inc.'s permitted Champlain Hudson Power Express transmission line.

Two combined-cycle natural gas projects in the Lower Hudson Valley are also vying to take Indian Point's place. Both Advanced Power Services (NA) Inc.'s approximately 1,070-MW Cricket Valley Energy project and Competitive Power Ventures Holdings LLC's 720-MW dual-fuel CPV Valley Energy Center are under construction, with CPV Valley expected to be in service in February 2018 and Cricket Valley expected to be online in late 2019.

A third combined-cycle project in New York City, NRG Energy Inc.'s permitted but seemingly shelved 1,040-MW Astoria Repowering CC project, could also be a contender.