New York’s Electricity Crunch
By Matthew Brennan, Candidate for United States Congress
October 25, 2004
New Yorkers pay the highest electrical rates in the continental United States. To solve this problem, New
York should seriously consider building more nuclear power plants.
But despite that, the only electric power plan New
York Congressman Elliot Engel has offered is a call to close the Indian Point nuclear power plant, a position that, if adopted, would create a severe power shortage for his constituents.
For the local population, Engel's number one transgression has to be his blatant inaction regarding the building of a national storage facility for the spent nuclear fuel from Indian Point and the other 100 active nuclear reactors in this nation.
In 1982, Congress passed a bill requiring that electricity users pay a tiny surcharge on electricity generated by nuclear power. Over $25 billion dollars has been collected. This money was intended to be used to build a storage facility for spent nuclear fuel.
The proposed facility -- at Yucca Mountain, Nevada --was supposed to be completed by 1998. Construction has still not started.
Engel sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
But he has done nothing to encourage the building of
the storage facility. And without it or another
similar facility elsewhere -- Indian Point has no
place to safely and permanently dispose of the used
In the last four years of press releases he sends
out about two per week -- Engel has said nothing about
Yucca Mountain. In March 2004, the congressional
energy subcommittee had a hearing on Yucca Mountain. A
review of the transcripts confirms Engel’s lack of
Instead Engel has chosen to terrorize the local
population with irresponsible rhetoric to "close
Indian Point. " If this happened New York would lose
the 2,000 megawatts generated by Indian Point and face
a severe power shortage.
New York State's peak demand for 2004 is 32,000
megawatts. It increases almost 400 megawatts a year.
The New York State Independent System Operators have
said the state will need an additional 5,000 megawatts
in the next five years. This will require $5 billion
for new transmission lines.
Not providing this expansion can have serious
consequences. In California, municipalities did not
maintain their local electric power grids and became
dependent on out-of-state electric producers. Utter
chaos resulted when their prices became prohibitive.
This led to the recall of the then governor, Gray
We are heading down the same road a road with no
traffic signals. In the next decade, electricity will
be so expensive that the struggling middle class will
be disenfranchised from it. We certainly cannot count
on having enough cheap electricity in our region to
sustain an economic recovery
The next generation of electricity production will be
small 100-megawatt pebble bed reactors. Cooled with
helium, the byproduct will be hydrogen that can power
fuel cells. We will then have a hydrogen-based
But that is a bit in the future. For the next 30 years
we need more power production. And the 100 miles of
Hudson River between New York City and Albany is the
perfect place to build power plants. We should utilize
this natural resource.
We have the technology to make electricity less
expensive. But some of our politicians are proposing
measures that would make it more expensive.
The cost of decommissioning Indian Point, for example,
would be over $1 billion dollars.
Engel also thinks consumer should pay over $1 billion
for huge cooling towers to save Hudson River fish
eggs. Depending upon the weather, these towers will be
huge snow or fog machines. The Hudson River makes a
sharp turn at Indian Post. The tower could create a
visibility problem that might cause a fuel oil tanker
to run aground. Screens save enough of the fish we
cannot eat anyway because of PCB pollution.
Instead of utilities’ increasing production, Engel
thinks the consumer should limit demand. He does not
seem to realize that the emerging economies of China
and India are seriously affecting the worldwide demand
for energy. These rapidly industrializing nations will
use anything we could possibly save -- and much more.
Engel also thinks windmills and solar panels can make
up the difference. But we all know that in this part
of the world the wind does not blow every day and
neither does the sun shine. These "ecologically
friendly" methods of electrical generation will not
pay for themselves and or generate the mass quantities
of electricity that our demand requires.
Alternative energy policies only make us feel good
about ourselves. At this time, they are not realistic.
They are a waste of time and money that should be
spent on building more power plants.
But there are dangers to conventional energy as well.
The generation of power makes the utility industry the
number one air polluter in the country. Most of the
lakes in New York State are devoid of fish life
because of acid rain.
Global warming, caused by the burning of fossil fuels,
is beyond crisis stage. According to a shocking report
issued by the Pentagon, the damage is already done. A
drastic disruption of the world’s weather patterns is
inevitable in our near future.
Last year, a record heat wave in Europe was blamed for
the deaths of 25,000 people. With melting ice caps
causing rising seas, the fresh water has interfered
with the movement of salt water ultimately affecting
the Earth's prevailing winds. This drastic worldwide
change in our environment will create anarchy with
regard to water and food supplies.
Until we have the technology to change from an
oil-based to a hydrogen-based economy, nuclear power
is the cleanest way to go. It takes the burning of
80,000 barrels of oil a day at more than $50 a
barrel -- to match the energy Indian Point produces.
Eighty percent of France's electricity is produced
with nuclear energy. Of the United States’ 700,000
megawatts of power production, only 20 percent is
nuclear. Yucca Mountain must be built so that nuclear
power can be utilized to its fullest potential.
People truly concerned with the environment should be
angry with Congressman Engel for his inaction on this
Matthew Brennan is the Republican candidate for U.S.
Congress from New York’s 17th District, which includes
parts of the Bronx and Westchester County.
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