Environmental Groups Call on Cuomo to Support Moratorium on Fossil Fuel Plants

With Renewables and Efficiency Fast Replacing Indian Point, There’s No Need for Fossil Fuel Generation


Contact:   Stephen Kent, skent@kentcom.com, 914-589-5988

[Albany, NY – April 20] Several environmental groups including Alliance for a Green Economy, Food & Water Watch, Frack Action, Riverkeeper, and Sierra Club today called on Governor Cuomo to support a proposed ban on permits for new fossil fuel power plants in New York state, and to reaffirm that when the Indian Point nuclear plant closes at the end of this month, there is plenty of power available to replace it. In fact, they point out, renewables and efficiency have already substantially replaced Indian Point’s power, and will replace it several times over in the next few years. That being the case, there’s no need for any new natural gas-fired capacity in New York, and no reason not to support a moratorium on it.

The ban could affect new gas plant construction as well as new proposed turbines for existing gas plants including Danskammer in Newburgh, NRG in the Astoria section of Queens, and Eastern Generation in Gowanus in Brooklyn. 

At a press conference yesterday, Politico reporter Marie French asked Governor Cuomo if he would support the ban, but the Governor declined. “If you say as an absolute, well you can't build any more natural gas plants, then the question arises what happens if you don't have enough renewables online when you close Indian Point,” Cuomo said. “I'm hopeful that we do. But what if you don't?”

The fact is, we do, and it’s not just a hope. NYISO analysis finds, and recent studiesconfirm, that when Indian Point shuts down for good this month, there will be no impact on grid reliability and no lack of power to replace it. Renewables and efficiency have already gone a long way toward replacing Indian Point’s output, and will replace it completely by 2024 or before. 

Energy Information Administration data shows that since the agreement to close Indian Point was signed in January 2017 and the state began preparing to replace its power, reliance on fossil fuel plants in New York has fallen 5,867 GWhs overall.  The decline was largely due to renewable energy and efficiency deployed since 2017, which effectively replaced the output of the Indian Point 2 reactor, which shut down a year ago. Additional renewables and efficiency deployed 2020 - 2024 will more than replace the Indian Point 3 reactor, which shuts down on April 30. By 2025, clean energy resources totaling more than twice the output of both Indian Point reactors will have come online in New York, causing gas generation to fall further.  New York has committed to reaching 70% renewable electricity by 2030, by which time renewables and efficiency will have replaced Indian Point five times over.

Indian Point 3, the last operating reactor at the plant, is already beginning to power down and will shut down completely as scheduled on April 30, ending the six-decade nuclear era in downstate New York.  In May, when the New York State Public Service Commission meets to discuss Indian Point, it will not be to vote on whether it should close, as the Governor implied in yesterday’s press conference (it already will have closed by then), but to decide whether to transfer Indian Point’s license to Holtec to decommission the shuttered plant.

With Indian Point closed, environmental groups say renewables and efficiency will continue to accelerate, hastening a clean energy future that holds environmental and economic benefits for New York. They therefore call on the Governor to support the fossil fuel power plant ban, and send a clear signal that New York chooses clean energy over nuclear and fossil fuels.

"As the nuclear era ends in downstate New York, we are seeing an acceleration of clean energy," said Jessica Azulay, executive director of Alliance for a Green Economy. "The data shows renewables and efficiency are able to replace nuclear and gas plants. We are turning the corner on the old, dirty energy paradigm, and there's no need and no reason to go back to fossil or nuclear.  We're asking the Governor to recognize that his administration is already replacing Indian Point with clean energy, and to throw his support behind the ban on new fossil fuel generation."

“Make no mistake: when Indian Point closes on April 30, we won’t need new gas-fired power plants to fill the gap,” said Riverkeeper President Paul Gallay. “Clean, renewable energy and energy efficiency are on track to replace Indian Point many times over. This moratorium on new fossil fuel generation is a chance for New York to double down on its commitments under the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. We urge Governor Cuomo to back the bill.”

“This ban on new gas power plants is common sense,” said Allison Considine, New York Campaign Representative for the Sierra Club.  “With only 19 years to achieve a 100% zero-emissions electric grid, we must stop permitting unnecessary new fracked gas plants. We have solutions to replace retiring nuclear and dirty gas plants with clean, renewable energy, battery storage, and transmission upgrades. These solutions will safely and reliably meet New York’s needs without entrenching more harmful fossil fuel infrastructure, further harming public health and exacerbating climate change."

 “To make any serious progress on climate change, Governor Cuomo must fulfill his legal and moral obligation to phase out fossil fuels,” said Food & Water Watch Northeast Region Director Alex Beauchamp. “We cannot continue to import fracked gas, let it flow through pipelines in our communities, or burn it in our power plants, factories and buildings.”


NOTE TO EDITORS AND PRODUCERS: Sources quoted in this release are available for comment and interviews.  To request an interview, or for more information, please contact Stephen Kent, skent@kentcom.com, 914-589-5988.