A recent commentary appearing on Syracuse.com (“No place for nuclear in NY’s clean energy future,” Dec. 2, 2022) gives a misguided and one-sided view of nuclear energy in New York state. In the piece, the authors summarily dismiss any value of nuclear energy and call for the closing of three Oswego County facilities — Nine Mile Point (Units 1 and 2) and FitzPatrick.
Clean-energy goals can be effective only if accompanied by energy policy that remains realistic. Unfortunately, that’s not what the article presents and not what we’ve seen in the Scoping Plan put forward by the Climate Action Council (CAC). New York’s version of the “Green New Deal” sets emissions targets that are unreachable at a cost that is almost certainly unaffordable.
Before calling for the state to abandon Upstate nuclear energy production, there are some important facts to consider:
- New York — especially Upstate — is already doing its part to protect the environment. More than 90% of the energy produced in Upstate New York comes from zero-emission sources, including nuclear power.
- According to the United Nations, nuclear power is as safe as any other source of electricity generation and has the lowest carbon footprint of any energy sources.
- The UN Economic Commission of Europe took a comprehensive look at various energy technologies. On all counts — land consumption, material use, greenhouse gas emissions and toxicity — nuclear has the lowest impact of energy source, including solar and wind.
- Nuclear power can deliver more electricity within a much smaller footprint. For example, the R.E. Ginna nuclear facility in Ontario, New York, provides 608 megawatts of electrical power from 425 acres of space. A solar farm would need to disrupt 17,000 acres of land to produce the same amount of electricity annually.
- According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), refurbishing existing nuclear plants is among the most cost-effective means of limiting carbon-emissions from the electricity sector. Consistent with this, NYSERDA estimates that New York can save $8.7 billion by extending the licenses of the reactors at Nine Mile Point, FitzPatrick and Ginna.
We’ve seen the dangers of overzealous, politically driven energy policies that effectively tear down a bridge without having a new one in place. Earlier this year, California was forced to declare a state of emergency as its power grid faced capacity issues in the peak summer months. California’s crisis demonstrated that any transition toward renewable energy alternatives must consider the key elements of reliability and affordability — both of which are proven qualities of nuclear energy.
Regrettably, the concerns most important to New York energy users are mere afterthoughts in the state’s environmental agenda.
Source : Syracuse