Indian Point closure should lead to renewable energy, says Clearwater environmental director

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BUCHANAN – Phase one of the complete shutdown of the Indian Point nuclear power plant took place on Thursday as Unit two was turned off. Unit three, the last remaining component, will be shut down one year from now.

Manna Jo Greene, the environmental director of Hudson River Sloop Clearwater in Beacon, said “as a society it is just really important that we transition to a renewable energy economy with storage and efficiency.”

Environmental activists like Greene hope the decision will lead to a clean energy future for New York State, but are reticent as the subsidiaries that own each of the three units – unit one has been closed for years – are in the process of being sold to controversial New Jersey-based energy company Holtec, which has been under investigation for bribery last year. Holtec’s mission is to dismantle the massive complex.

Greene believes the closure of Indian Point is an important chapter in New York State’s fight against climate change.

The environmentalist who is also a member of the Ulster County Legislature, explains that Clearwater and many other groups have worked for a long time to ensure that those plants do close down because of the belief of the danger that they pose, but there are barriers in the transition to clean energy.

“Now is the time to really focus on the safest possible decommissioning and there are some real issues that community faces in that regard,” she said.

The major barrier is Holtec’s potential involvement in the decommissioning, according to Greene. Not only is she concerned about their alleged illicit activity, but she believes the company will “severely reduce the amount of emergency response and many other factors that would compromise public health and safety.”

To this end, Clearwater’s first priority is to make sure Entergy’s application through the Nuclear Regulatory Commission does not get filed.

Clearwater is pulling together local energy experts to create a comprehensive renewable energy solution that will meet the state’s goals of 70 percent renewable energy by 2030 and 100 percent by 2040, in accordance with the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act that was signed into law last year by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

They are hoping to have a blueprint of how to get there by the end of this year.

Greene understand the magnitude of what they are trying to accomplish, but believes it will be achievable.

“None of us underestimate the amount of infrastructure that such an undertaking will entail,” she said. “It’s going to take a reorientation of resources to ensure that the infrastructure is put into place in a timely manner. We have to get to work, put the plan into place, find the financing and create those wonderful jobs. That’ll be part of the solution.”