Sunday, July 27, 2014

Why Closing Indian Point In Summer is Like Shutting Down Mariano Rivera

Mariano Rivera
Let's turn back the clock to May 9, 2001 and visit the Bronx to play a game of "what if?"

The defending World Series Champions, the New York Yankees, are locked in a tight pennant race early in the season, trailing the hated Boston Red Sox by just a half game in the standings after beating the Minnesota Twins 2-0 at home. The win was locked up thanks to the efforts of Mariano Rivera, widely acknowledged to be the best relief pitcher in the game.  

As Yankees manager Joe Torre arrives for his postgame press conference, his demeanor doesn't reveal that he's about to drop a bombshell that will rock the baseball world. Looking to add a throwaway quote to a story, one reporter asks Torre to reflect on what Rivera's pitching has meant for the team.

"What else is there to say? Without Mariano, we don't win the World Series in '98, '99 or 2000. He's at the heart of everything we do around here. Which reminds me, as of tomorrow, we're shutting him down. There really isn't a reason I can point to right now. All I can tell you is that Mariano won't be available to pitch beginning tomorrow and won't be back in our bullpen for three months."

"How can the team possibly win the division without Rivera closing games? And what plan do you have to replace him?" asks another reporter.

"Well, we really don't have a plan. I guess we'll just make it up as we go along," Torre says.

Crazy, you say? Of course it wouldn't ever have happened (Torre wouldn't have been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame if he had made managerial decisions like that). Unfortunately, something a whole lot like it is playing out on the New York electric grid and the consequences for Westchester County and New York City could be far more severe than losing a couple of baseball games.

Indian Point Energy Center
Last week in New York, the Department of Environmental Conservation held a hearing to propose that Indian Point Energy Center, the 2,045 MWe champion of the New York State electric grid, shut down every year from May 10 to August 10 to take pressure off of local fish populations. If you don't already know it, Indian Point provides 25 percent of the electricity used in Westchester and New York City every day.

As an alternative, local environmental groups have proposed Entergy install cooling towers, a multi-billion dollar project that would put additional pressure on New York electricity prices, already the highest in the nation.And for what it's worth, as far as Entergy's concerned, the complaints about the local fish population are completely without merit.

Needless to say, there are plenty of folks in New York ready to call this proposal out for what it is: stone cold crazy. Here's what the New York Post had to say: "Only in New York would a state agency suggest closing a power plant in summer, when electricity is needed most."

You'd think that more people would be able to understand that simple point, but the fact remains that too many seem to take electricity for granted. That's part of the reason why we published a special section of our website concerning nuclear energy's unmatched reliability. Every spring, nuclear plants around the country perform refueling outages to help plants run 24/7 for between 18-24 months at a time. That way, when demand spikes along with record high temperatures, nuclear plants like Indian Point Energy Center can serve as the reliable backbone of the nation's entire electric grid.

Last Summer, for seven straight days and nights, Indian Point did just that, working 24/7 as the New York Metropolitan area labored under record-setting high temperatures. Without Indian Point last Summer, New York's electric grid would have been in quite a pickle, just like the Yankees would have been in their glory years without Rivera.

When the heat is on, why in the world would you shut down the assets you depend on the most?

Photo Credit: Shot of Mariano Rivera by Keith Allison used under Creative Commons License. Click here for specific license terms. Photo of Indian Point courtesy of Entergy.

1 comment:

jimwg said...

Re: "When the heat is on, why in the world would you shut down the assets you depend on the most?"

Because unchallenged, fear always trumps, even common sense.

James Greenidge
Queens NY